Summer in so many Ways

Okay, so maybe the weather isn't quite up to speed this year. "Summer" looming on the calendar looks a lot more like spring just barely starting outdoors, but I'm okay with that. Summer is usually a little too long and a little too hot for me anyway, and if we sneak up on it with some of this foggy, chilly, beachy, dampness, maybe it won't seem like a torture at the end of August. Shoot - at this rate, we'll be lucky to turn off the heat in the house by the end of August!

Season changing, and again there's a huge clock overlaying the world, and the second hand is near the top, and the minute hand is about to click. The scenery has already changed. Everything has changed. For me, everything has changed. Again.

At the parish, we are doing a huge project to organize, format, and use a multi-age, multi-purpose curriculum for children's religious education. This past school year was our first experiment, and it was a stunning success! Those kids learned hymns and catechism and songs and lessons ... they can recite in "choir" with each other, and they watch out for each other like a group of loving siblings. I couldn't be happier about the effort they've put in and the things they've been able and willing to do, and the final presentation for the congregation at coffee hour was a smashing success. But the secret's in the sauce.

And the sauce has been simmering for a long time. The sauce was not a one-person endeavor. The sauce needed more than one person to stir it. And THIS year another cook signed on for the fun - not just for awhile, but for years to come. Others have pitched in over the years when they've been needed, but none of them could stand and stir like this one does. You know who you are, my friend and sister, and without your creative input, enthusiastic willingness, and determined patience, I could not possibly have gotten those catechumens through a real year of vigorous, traditional Anglican children's instruction. I want to cut loose with the joy of it - to sing like Maria von Trapp in the opening sequences on mountaintops! This team we've formed - it's just so GOOD.

On the home front, we enter a new summer of our lives. This - here - now - this is two adult people who've passed all the way through child rearing and out the other side, and this is the first summer of the New Order of Things. We've done practice runs before. Evenings, or weeks, or school terms without offspring in the house. But this isn't practice. This is it. And now it's summer.

It's summer for us in a lot of ways. We planted and tilled and planted and weeded and tilled and planted and tilled and planted ... and the kids grew up! All at once, it's summer and there's nothing to do but watch what happens in this field we've worked on all these years. Now is not the time to try pulling out the tares. Too much of the wheat may be harmed, and it's not ours to do. Now is the time to let it alone to do what it will. The harvest is coming. (Please, God, send the latter rains.)

Life is like this. It's seasons inside of seasons - a wheel within a wheel, a'turnin', way in the middle of the air. For this family, it's summer. And I've just planted something I've never planted before ... and ... well, did you ever put a seed into the ground and be unable to stop yourself from checking on it several times a day? I feel like the boy in The Carrot Seed.

They keep telling him, "It won't come up." But he's an Idealist and a Dreamer and he knows. He just knows. If every day he pulls up the weeds around the seed and sprinkles the ground with water ... he just KNOWS it will come up.

And it does! It's HUGE. He carts his carrot around on a wheelbarrow because it's gigantic.

And my seed was a marketing idea, and my weeding was the courses I offered but never got to teach at the community center, and my water was hope ... and now I have a student. One perfect student who understands what she's doing and participates with her whole self and is learning to write for self-discovery and follow directions with the most sweetly lovely trust imaginable, and I am beside myself with the possibilities for the seeds I've planted.

Why ... what if ... what if a whole CROP of carrots as huge as my entire self came up? What if?


The Time Has Come

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:

Like, for instance, the realization now firmly in hand, that neither of us - neither The Great Husband or his wife (that would be me, variously known as "missus," "young lady," and "mom") - has any time left in this life to wait for better health habits. Either we return to being skinnier now, or the whole idea slips further and further from our lives as we have lived them. The cumulative effects have begun their adding and the sum is too near ill health and a painfully slow old age. It's time to deal with this because there is no time left.

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--

And school -- and kids -- and peeling paint -- Of marriages -- and things. See, here's the dealeo. My kids aren't kids, and they're off doing their own lives, and they have decided at last to discount utterly what their parents have learned about interpersonal relationships and commitment and the connection between our souls (so easily shredded, so hard to repair) and our bodies (which seem immortal when we're in our twenties). Okay, fine. That's what the Walrus and the Carpenter have decided. They have to do what they have to do, and if they have decided that their parents are too ridiculously traditional or hide-bound or small-minded or hyper-sensitive to understand how things are in the "real" world, there is nothing left for us to do but pay attention to the many and enormous things we love about these former children of the household. And there is a lot to be happy about.

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."

It isn't. And they don't. But if no one who needs this information is listening, then maybe it's not time to talk yet. Maybe, instead, it's time to gasp at a suddenly clear blue sky and be completely happy about the approaching short spate of warm weather. Maybe it's time to get new creativity nurtured (lessons instead of classes? okay! I can do that!) -- maybe it's time to weed the house and decorate the yard and just. Be. Happy.

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;

Okay. I can wait a bit. I know how. The Oysters aren't ready. Then, there's nothing for it. Here I sit. Here I wait. Here I dig and here I play. This sand slips through the glass, with unrelenting certainty, and it doesn't ever flow the other way, but this sand also makes castles and wonders and beauty. Shall I moan that the tide comes in?

For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"

I shall not moan. Many mothers moan.
Many mothers moaning mumbling
make a musing every morning,
that their lives are dull and flat.
The children never call us.
The house is empty now.
What will I do with all my time
if no one needs me? How
shall I be happy
if my whole day is mine?

I know, I know. I've gone over this a thousand times. I keep coming back to check. Am I doing it? Am I being the mom of adults? Am I being the woman in the middle of a century of life, who knows that most people don't get a century, and that if this life of mine is going to be lived, I'd better get to it? Raising my kids took my whole body, my whole soul, every ounce of my being, and it was for them - not for me.

The tide turned. The sand caved in. The castle that contained their childhoods is washed out to sea, and our midlife is here, and we are together. And now we are really really good at tides. Oysters eventually produce pearls. That much we know.

"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.