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Pet Blessing

It’s right up there. It may be my favorite pastoral day of the year. A day when we recall the loving legacy of St. Francis and honor the animals in our lives.

What a gift that 22 furry friends gathered on the Sacred Garden lawn. We reveled in the music of Rev. Amy Sens. After many minutes of sound system wrangling, we were able to secure some amplification. How patient the canines were as we waited to kick-off our time together. The balmy temps of a warm October day were a welcome change from last year’s Noah Ark-like monsoon.

There were several folks from the church present, and it was wonderful to look out and see a dozen neighbors or so there to celebrate their pets.

There was one kitty. A beautiful soul, one-eyed, and timid who let me gingerly touch her head. And there was also the surreal moment when a woman with her dog pulled out her phone: would you also bless my ten year old fish? There was a picture of her fish on the phone. She held it out for me. I felt a surge of such love for this fish. I could feel the joy that it is has brought its human.

We gave thanks for the ways that our companions shepherd us through the hard places. I shared about a toad that jumped out of the grave plot a few weeks ago during a burial in this very Garden. What could bring us better hope in this time than a toad covered in ashes leaping from the tomb? We have our expectations about how things will go and our animals help keep us in this moment. Especially in these COVID-19 months we are apt to speed up into the desires of the next season or look so longingly about what has been pre-pandemic. Our animals–God’s creation–these beautiful friends have helped to keep us grounded into the needs of this moment, in the midst of life and death. For this, we give thanks.

After we were all finished and wrapping up, a woman came breathless: “Is it too late for the blessing?” She not only had her dog with her, but also the ashes of two beloved cats. There was the chance for the memorial blessing of those who had gone before as such a source of comfort. There was a blessing for the dog who would walk her home. As we walk through our valleys and into the paths of this time, we are in good hands in the company of such loving shepherds.

Photos by Sandy Queen. For hosting the Blessing, special thanks to Don Benson Elaine Buderer, Sandy Gillen, and Amy Sens.

Binsar Update

If you have followed the previous posts about Binsar Siahaan’s Story: Introduction and Protest , you’ll want to know the latest! With cautious optimism we look forward and are praying and hoping for the best into these weeks and months to come. Rev. Kara Scroggins, Binsar’s pastor, writes this update 10.16:

#FreeBinsar Binsar is FREE! Pressure on ICE came from all sides–14,000+ petition signatories and marchers; a fantastic legal team and a just federal judge; Congressional representatives who themselves were responding to public pressure; and the prayers and presence of a multi-faith community–and it worked. ICE caved. Binsar was released from detention yesterday and is home with his family. We wait now for the case to come before the Board of Immigration Appeals, but we wait with so much more hope than the past five weeks allowed.If you’re able to give toward the family’s legal fees, please do. The attorney, Elsy Ramos Velasquez, is brilliant, and her tireless work was/is critical to keeping Binsar and Eko home and safe. https://glenmontumc.breezechms.com/give/onlineIf you wrote a card to Binsar while he was in detention and it was returned to you, please send it on to their church address: 12915 Georgia Ave. Silver Spring, MD, 20906. The power of this expansive community that has come together is immense. It’s a really big deal to get someone out of detention and to stop a deportation, and you have been a part of it. Thank you. Binsar and Eko and their kids are resilient leaders, and I hope that we will keep standing alongside them and all detained people, advocating and giving whatever it takes until every last person is out from under ICE’s cruel, dishonest fist. #FreeThemAll

Binsar and Family

A Community’s Discernment

Kittamaqundi Community Church (KC) is engaging in a Spiritual Discernment on Sunday afternoon. The discernment centers on the question: “Is the Holy Spirit calling Kittamaqundi Community to rename our building?”

Over the last year, KC researchers have uncovered historical evidence outlining that the Oliver family was a slaveholding family who owned the property at Oakland, including the Carriage House from 1825-1838. They were one among many slaveholding families to occupy the grounds. A real estate ad from the 1920’s first reveals the name “Oliver’s Carriage House.” There was at least one other building in the area known as “The Carriage House,” and this one needed some distinction. “Oliver’s Carriage House” seemed to stick and it was the name of the building when the early people of KC took over as owners in the early 1970s. While the faith community is known as Kittamaqundi Community Church, to this day the building is known as Oliver’s Carriage House.

Over the course of the last many months, members and friends of KC have been sitting with much complied historical information and considering what it means to have the name of a slaveholder connected with the Carriage House. The congregation had spent time through in advance of its jubilee season of 2019 connecting with the living stones of our building and the ancestral (largely undocumented) history of our grounds.

This jubilee plaque rests on a rock in the church’s Sacred Garden.

Discernment

KC has held to a tradition of spiritual discernment when it comes to the larger questions of the church. The Council calls for a time of gathering information that leads to a time of community meditation. The Council writes, “A KC practice, inspired by our Quaker brothers and sisters, engages us in a community discernment to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit within our thoughts, our words, our emotions, and our physical sensations.  This session is not a vote, a discussion, a debate, or a decision making time.  This is a time of listening – to ourselves and to each other. A time to feel the Spirit moving in and amongst us as we listen carefully for what calls us forward.  Each person who wishes to speak will have a brief and uninterrupted time to share.”

And so it is that Sunday KC will be gathering prayerfully to discern: “Is the Holy Spirit calling Kittamaqundi Community to rename our building?”

Enabling

I serve as Enabling Minister, the Pastor, of KC. It is long hoped that the Enabling Minister will help the people of KC live into the call of the Spirit on our individual and communal journeys. Often this comes through listening encouragement, a walking alongside as we discover and uncover new things together. We live into our brokenness together, and look to the healing power of the Spirit’s love in our lives. At times, I am more vocal, seeking to be attentive to our spiritual frameworks as a religious community. What do the prophetic voices of the Christian tradition have to share with us as we face the decisions of our day? How do we honor our own legacy as a compassionate and active agent of God’s love?

Here is a pdf link to my sharing on September 6 that centers on the question: why would a spiritual community change the name of its building?

The September 6 Worship Service is available at this time via Facebook.

I point to the transforming biblical witnesses like that of Jacob (Israel) at Beth-el that come with a change from one name to another. I point to the role of spiritual communities to expand love and seek to do no harm to neighbors, especially as we would pursue anti-racism. I lastly point to the role that spiritual communities have in getting into “good trouble,” often as it starts with a the inward work of humble examination and confession.

Going Forward

While I cannot say how the Spirit will lead in discernment, I am encouraged by KC’s willingness to sit with disruptive questions in stretching times. The realities of pandemic and larger unrest of our nation mean that we as a people are uncertain, tired, and holding fears about the time to come. And while it may not feel like the right time for everyone to be holding this space together, we look to the ripeness of every time to pursue the expansion of God’s love through prayerful discernment.

If we were to change the name of the building, it would be but one of our steps on a journey to pursue the work of racial justice. As we would make this change to the inward part of our lives–our name–it would come with the outward invitation to bear public witness to God’s unfolding love in the face of white supremacy. I pray that we continue to seek the path of good trouble in our work together as spiritual community in our neighborhood and larger communities of this world. The present time asks of us a moral courage to live out of the love of Christ through the employ of our resources, the increase of our hearts, and the attentiveness to the legacy of our living stones.

It is a profound gift to serve this community. May God’s joy and justice unfold as we move together on the journey ahead.

Balloon for Binsar

See my previous post here for background on Binsar Siahaan’s story.

I joined other people of faith in downtown D.C. on Thursday. We met in front of Christ UMC and walked to ICE headquarters. There we prayed and attempted to deliver petitions with over 13,000 signatures asking that officials release Binsar from custody at a Georgia detention center. It was emotional to stand there as Binsar’s two children held the petitions, asking that the officers deliver them inside the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Building.

Rev. Kara (middle in blue) alongside Binsar’s two children holding the sign

The next day, Friday, was Binsar’s hearing in Greenbelt. Rev. Kara Scroggins posted this update today, 10.3.20, regarding yesterday’s hearing and the journey ahead.

Kara writes: “It has been a full week of public action and three weeks of organizing, and we got both hopeful news and a challenge in court yesterday. The first important ruling is that the judge ordered Binsar NOT be deported until all of his appeal options for his asylum case are exhausted. The second ruling is that, within 14 days, Binsar should be taken out of Georgia and returned to detention in Maryland. We’re relieved to have him back closer to home, but we won’t stop pressing until he is all the way home–out of handcuffs, and with his family. THANK YOU for being part of the massive effort to raise awareness and get elected representatives involved. When we get the go-ahead from the attorney, the #FreeBinsar organizing team will let you know the next steps to raise our voices and call for release. Thank you to every person who has signed, shown up, shared, prayed, called, written, and VOTED. It’s possible.”

“Judge grants Indonesian immigrant arrested on church grounds a temporary reprieve from deportation”– Latest article here.

I took four balloons with me–one for Binsar, one for his wife, and one for each of his two children. Recalling my days looking for joy on the corner with a balloon, I prayed that days of joy would yet come.

Call to Action: Free Binsar

Here I am with my dear friend, Rev. Kara Scroggins. Here we are in front of an MLK50 mural when we visited my hometown of Memphis together in 2018. Since that time, I am continually inspired by her big heart and the ways she reaches out in the pursuit of justice.

Right now she has an urgent plea on behalf of one of her parishioners who faces possible deportation. Kara has been doing everything in her power to halt such an action and is calling upon all she knows to apply pressure to ICE and the powers that be to seek his immediate release.

Background:

Binsar Siahaan, a husband, father of two U.S. born children who are minors, and faithful member of Glenmont United Methodist Church, has been separated from his family. According to the Rev. Kara Scroggins, pastor at Glenmont UMC, on early Thursday morning, Sept. 10, six Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody officers showed up to the home of Binsar and Eko Siahaan– a home located on the property of Glenmont UMC – and, without warning or honest explanation, took Binsar into custody.

 “They transported him to Baltimore and then to Georgia, and are seeking his immediate removal to Indonesia,” Scroggins said. “The family’s lawyer has left voicemails and emails for various ICE offices, and no one has returned her call to share information about why this has happened.” Binsar and Eko have a pending motion to reopen their strong case for asylum on religious grounds, the pastor said. 

“They have been cooperative with all check-ins and requirements and were taken completely by surprise – and terror – when officers entered their home before 7 a.m. and began searching it,” Scroggins said.  “They have been caring meticulously for the church building since the pandemic began: dusting and vacuuming the empty pews; planting gardens outside the sanctuary; and, just days before he was arrested, Binsar, noticing that the American flag outside the church was tattered, purchased a more durable one, he said, ‘to fly with more pride,” she said.

Please take the time to read more about Binsar Siahaan’s story. Please his story in a Washington Post article and in the Episcopal News Service here.

Faith Leaders Call for Binsar Siahaan’s Immediate Release

:For the Most Up-to-date Information and Action:

Glenmont UMC Call to Action Page

Two Online petitions:

Faithful American

United Methodist-specific petition

A Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church article can be found here. Her full remarks calling for his release are found here.

Bakery Run

With a half day of school, it was the right opportunity to make one last trip to Jenny Cakes in Kensington, MD. I used to work next door, and how tempting it always was to stop over for a sweet treat. For every birthday in the last years, it’s been a must stop. We still haven’t found anything near us to rival JennyCakes since moving far afield two years ago. So, when I heard that the shop would be closing at the end of this week, I was determined to get once trip in.

I trooped with the kids down to Kensington and didn’t hold back with 12 cupcakes! and a cake to freeze for my daughter’s fall birthday. And two of those peanut butter cookies with the chocolate kisses on top for good measure…It was good to see Jenny herself–someone I have admired for running her own business and doing so with such cheer and community engagement. The difficulty of pandemic no doubt has required so much stretching and uncertainty– what it must mean for small business owners to keep things afloat and support their workers.

How delicious each bite has been as a reminder of days past. And perhaps, too, a sweetness still possible in days ahead as my kids licked every drop of icing off of wrappers. And one little boy was so full of all that goodness, that he slept soundly. With this growing little guy always in motion, I soaked in the moment as he slept–no doubt dreaming of dessert.

First Day

First Day 9.8.20

I don’t know a parent that isn’t conflicted about their decision making this school year. Most are going virtual with their learning. We’ve had an opportunity to send both kids to a small school with in person learning–not a decision everyone could or would choose. This is the decision that we have made as a family alongside a school with great attentiveness to the circumstances of this moment and great precautions taken. For the last two months this decision has dominated our family thought and discernment.

And so, as school arrives this week, I receive the roller coaster emotions that comes with new routines. My in-laws were here last week from many states away. Their presence reminded us of the space that comes when other loving adults pour energy and love into caregiving. Their dedication prepared me for the reality to have more stretches of work time and to release them into places of new learning outside our home. Our kids have already been taking in with joy the sights of classrooms and teachers. They share the names of the new friends they are making.

I still wrestle with our new reality, recognizing how much of my head and heart space has been wrapped up into their daily activities. I recognize the fear that comes with the pandemic. Parents are juggling big demands and difficult decisions each day. I see the relief that I am supposed to feel with my kids in a new setting, and I can see the possible pathway to get there. I am still weary in my spirit.

Today, we sent in a family photo to my son’s class- so that he can show his family to his new friends, and I am sure so that it can be added to the family photo board in the classroom. I think also to my daughter’s creative place setting this past week as her critters set down to share a meal. We’ve shared so many meals together, the four of us.

For now, I am admitting the grayness when no choice feels like a great one. I am sizing up the joy that I can eventually embrace as we move forward. I am lamenting the ways in which we are still facing dishevelment. My thanks reside in the place settings as family. For all that we mean to each other, I give thanks. For teachers and administrators. For all that others will be to us, we give thanks. For the school year ahead with its messiness and opportunity, we lift our hope. For our friends who have faced and made different decisions, we share our complete understanding and love.

8.22.20 Our Rounds

Rachel Carson. We are continuing to learn about her life and legacy. We had visited a small inlet named in her honor in Maine last summer. Little did we know, she has a trail named in her honor nearby our home. We tromped out Friday morning and visited the edge of this Greenway of Brookeville, Maryland. We can’t wait to return to find the stream and delight in the woods named for this powerful scientist and nature writer. I wasn’t able to capture via photo the gorgeous monarch butterflies that led us along, but we did spy a horse and rider taking advantage of the equestrian trails.

On our return drive, we happened on the Brighton Dam Azalea Garden. While the flowers weren’t in bloom this time of year, we enjoyed a short time in the gazebo by the dam and found some stairs fit for a giant.

Who knew? We didn’t have to travel far for adventure. As soon as we returned home, my daughter grabbed a chair and took it to the front yard where she could get a good view of the landscaping across the street. Complete with a front loader, the landscapers had my kids’ full attention for a good half hour.

Enjoying the view.

Otherwise, our driveway has been full this week with big town and country happenings. My daughter mapped out an entire village and city landscape. I was able to contribute some buildings to town. We drew a row dedicated to different houses of worship.

She insisted that instead of a White House, she would sketch an “Everybody’s House” welcome to all. I made sure we included a big Post Office (the biggest building in town!) with a discussion about how important it is for us an everyone to receive mail.

I followed up with a little action to our local Post Office where folks were gathered today. As my husband said, “Mom’s going to represent us.” As I made my humble box sign, I kept thinking of my great-grandfather, once the postmaster general of a Mississippi county. I’m thinking especially of the postal employees today–of the support and funding necessary for their work and of the need to keep the the postal service as a funded and trusted vehicle for all to utilize. A bonus was running into church members and learning that I was standing next to neighbors .

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night (nor pandemic and its awful fright) stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds…” Thank you.

8.15.20 Island

We were able to get away. My parents drove 16 hours from Tennessee to join us in Chincoteague. In COVID times, this was a supreme gift. The week was spent spying wild ponies, making sand creatures, and swatting away mosquitoes! The opportunity to be in another setting for a week was welcome.

How important to take in other scenes in to enlarge the view! How wily the spirit of love is galloping in alternative spaces. Joy that comes after long hours with the waves. Laughter that comes over the Scrabble board when the kids are tucked in bed.

Here were the three ponies my son named “Sea Desert,” “Winter Desert,” and “Hot Desert.” Quite a trinity.

And my daughter lost her first tooth on the way home in a milk carton! A sign that time chugs on. That the days are marked in road trips, in visits from loved ones, in our bodies evolving.

And now back to the days at home trotting out only occasionally for necessities and to drink in the nature that is nearby. Giving thanks for the lighthouses towering beside the sea inviting us to visit when we can getaway. For the bald eagles that alight in trees cawing out for us to “Come again!”

See in the upper left. A bald eagle perched.

8.7.20 Inching Along

My son was riding his bike and insisted that I come and see the butterfly on the road. My first instinct was to avoid it– for any butterfly so long landed was surely dead. I finally went over and was captivated by the beauty of this fallen creature. So still and so fragile. She was so stuck that she could not be moved without fragmenting.

Such a different image awaited us the next morning when we emerged from the house. My daughter was on the driveway and noticed that there were dozens of caterpillars all over the concrete and yard. We both spied some falling from trees. It felt like we were being overrun (by what I later discovered are oakworms?). They seemed to be a part of some big transition. They inched around all over the walkways until they found their way into the earth. What was it about this day that called these critters forth into their next stage? Mating? Life cycles of death and new life crawling.

In the evening, we saw the familiar doe and her two fauns–this time not across the green, but right outside our window. While it did distract us from our dinner, I couldn’t resist watching the deer munching their supper. So often I feel in concert with this mama shepherding her two young ones. How the kids have grown in these months!

All the time life is unfolding. Sometimes we have a front row seat. And despite the ongoing fatigue and uncertainty, I give thanks for this up close season with my family. Don’t get me wrong, often it feels like I am flailing. But nature seems to minister to us when we don’t even know we need it. I received news that my best friend has had her baby and my heart leaps. And the sadness only comes as I know it will be so long before I get to hold this dear boy.

And I ache for all those in the virus’ path. My heart is heavy for those within my community who are most weighed down by loneliness, lack of social supports, as well as addiction and/or depression. I think of the butterfly and her fragile wings. I pray this evening that many I know may have the strength yet to rest and rise. May they remember the love flowing. May they experience it up close as we all inch into transitions.

7.31.20 Good Trouble

Snapshots from July’s Last Week…when we passed the midway point of summer’s peak. When the world felt hot like our driveway, when mosquitoes nested in the Sacred Garden’s pond abutting our United States. As we could feel the biting energy of pandemic across the nation.

And found respite by the inflatable pool. We rowed our way with rake oars, across the outstretched lands of long days to arrive at John Lewis’ Funeral. We heard the charge of “good trouble” and the always powerful words of Rev. James Lawson.

Two years ago, I was there in my hometown of Memphis as he moved about the city for MLK50. On several occasions I got to hear Rev. Lawson speak, energized then–and perhaps more so now at 91. We don’t watch screens at the dinner table, but it was the exception.

Rev. James Lawson speaks at Rep. John Lewis’ funeral.

And we watched the tree trimmers who came to prune back the branches. A big view from our window as they reminded us that things can’t grow while the wilted limbs remain.

Perhaps the tree and Rev. Lawson were preaching the same invitation–that my children may look out and see something more than I have yet seen. Maybe the earth spies it with new glasses and announces an opening from sea to shining sea. There is a trouble brewing. Good and long going and yet longer to go past the summer’s reach.

7.22.20 Interplanetary Prayer

When you go visit prayers stations in the midst of space week…

We’ve been busy cutting out our planets to create the solar system on the dining room wall. Sadly, the seascape came down. My son lamented that the poor octopus was “so sad” to be replaced.

There is a time and season for everything. The Prayer stations Wednesday at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Laurel were a good reminder of the emotional stopovers we take. After visiting the “Anger Zone,” my daughter and I had a talk about the fact that anger comes every day in some way. Some days are more frustrating that others.

Next, my daughter enjoyed the chance to write: “Love is peace,” she scrawled on a heart and strung it to a tree. We all liked standing under the umbrella, appreciating the momentary chance to gather in the protective space. And there was the well where we held rocks and thought about what we hold onto when we are hurt, and the invitation to let go or forgive.

And then of course, the “Silly Walk Zone.” We are old pros after creating several ourselves this summer. We got dizzy following the rainbow. We then walked the length of the cemetery. We talked of dying; I read from the tombstones as we passed. I remembered also that there was a sign on the front of the church with number of Howard County COVID19 deaths: 96. There was the grieving tree. We wrote Cousin Debby’s name on a ribbon and my daughter tied it to the tree. Debby died this week suddenly. So heartbreaking.

Lastly, there was the little labyrinth at the path’s end. The kids both bounced along eager to reach the middle.

The summer sun was heating up on this earth and who knows where else in the solar system. It flared into another day of living and dying. The Spirit shone with it, into our heaviness and our healing. And we felt our prayers stretch so far beyond what we can see, past what we can imagine, to the bounds of the universe. Flung from the third rock from the sun, we balled our anger, joys, laments, and laughter together. And we were encircled by the host of saints who have gone before. A brightness bigger than our fear.

Thank you, Emmanuel UMC.

7.16.20 For the Birds

I looked out from the computer and saw a big black bird of prey circling overhead. There are always so many birds visible from our home. Earlier we saw both a male and female bluebird out front. Cardinals and goldfinches regularly alight at our feeder. A woodpecker with little red tufts pecks at our aging birch. Afternoons like these are envious ones in pandemic. As I see them soar to the skies. I’ve never understood where they really go. Their nests are most often invisible. I’ve wondered where they tuck away before they forage and take flight. They make their varied nests of mud, and of sticks, of trash or their own feathers.

The bird of prey feels ominous. I later log on and see the news that my county’s schools will have virtual learning at least until January. There was already a lot swirling about hybrid learning models and uncertainty. No doubt the latest increase in COVID-19 cases in the state and country are the driving factors as school admins try to weigh all the countless factors involved in keeping kids, teachers, and school workers safe.

In addition to understanding why they have made this decision–I am also flattened. After four months home, I can’t quite process how it is that we will take our seemingly impossible steps into the months to come. Yet, we will like the millions of parents. And what of the families that will struggle mightily for access? We recognize the lucky places of our journey. I also recognize a weariness in my eyes that doesn’t go away. Where do the birds go before the earliness of the morning calls them forward, before their little ones cheap their hunger for food, instruction, and love?

Wednesday we went over to the Sacred Garden at the Church and chalked a whole flock of feathery friends. This post is for you if you, too, have had a flightless stretch of days imagining into the unknowns of the time ahead. Perhaps you also hold anger, looking around and wishing that all were being addressed in this country with more compassion, scientific trust, and collaboration. For the sake of our children. For the sake of everyone. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for words that soar with hope into a day yet to come.

Cardinals and Starlings and Remembering When | I Might Need A Nap

7.10.20 The Farmer Takes a Wife

We’ve entered into “Summer Camp” at my house. My daughter helped me chart some themes for this month to help guide our activities. We launched into farm time, focusing on pigs, horses, cows, and tractors. A little bit of focus can go a long way.

Logic puzzles. How to hide the three pigs under the houses?
A train circles our little farm–complete with unicorns.

A socially distanced trip to Clark’s Elioak Farm meant that we got to take a hay ride (minus the hay) pulled by a tractor, feed goats, and visit the Enchanted Forest.

It was hot as blazes, but we made it with frequent trips to the shade. One thing I wasn’t expecting was to start psychoanalyzing nursery rhymes. Among the play scenes was “Peter, Peter, Punkin Eater.” You may recall he “had a wife but could not keep her.” He “Put her in a pumpkin shell. There he kept her very well.”

Here is a photo of my kids peering into the pumpkin shell where the wife is all dressed up and looking in the mirror. After reciting the poem, I didn’t have a good explanation truly about why she was in the pumpkin shell.

Warning: this is about to get morbid.

Peter, Peter

When I looked up possible origin stories, none of them were awesome. I found this on Bustle: “The wife that “couldn’t be kept” in this rhyme didn’t keep running away or anything — rather, she was supposedly a prostitute. Historians believe that Peter the pumpkin-eater tired of his wife’s extra-curricular activities, then murdered her and hid her body in a pumpkin. An even more outrageous interpretation is that it’s about the 13th century English King John, who famously bricked a rebellious noble’s wife into a wall to starve to death.” 

Interesting what story and songs pass generationally. Perhaps the narrating of history is just as garbled and often as sinister as the rhymes and fairy stories of centuries past. At a time when I am thinking seriously about miseducation and the whitewashing of history, it doesn’t hurt to take a critical lens at the most seemingly elementary of entry points.

What is this pumpkin story communicating today? Why would a women be caged away in an absurd cell? Likely even murdered and dumped there. In the origin story it describes her as being a cheater ala “Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater,” but we might also suppose that a woman can be engaged in all kinds of things that need to be suppressed. Voting? Seeking a living wage? Running away from enslavement? Decrying domestic abuse? Speaking one’s mind? Immigrating? Protesting? I won’t link stories of women thus slain, but they are out there in abundance.

A sobering thought to navigate the patriarchal pumpkin shell! I’ll have to figure out a way one day to talk more candidly about Peter, Peter’s intentions. Keeping my eyes open to the messages that enchant us.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,      Had a wife but couldn't keep her;      He put her in a pumpkin shell      And there he kept her very well.

7.2.20 Spills

It feels like lifetimes pass with each day. We had a chance to be away last week. My kids buried my husband in the sand. We ate more birthday cake, we laughed, we took a week away from our home. This was the first week off together since Thanksgiving.

Coming back was hard. Landing back at home to unpack all the stuff, do the laundry, and face a reentry into the long days of parenting in pandemic. How wonderful to get away. How challenging to return to the ongoing uncertainties–especially as we look out to fall schooling.

And so, we’ve muddled through this week. Today was full of spills. First, the tiny beads by my son bouncing all over the kitchen floor. I was first miffed by his desire to re-sort them all, but gave in. There was something about the control of being able to put each little thing in its place that turned out to be appealing!

There were later the goldfish that fell all over the porch. And there was the tumbling of cups of water. And there was my frustrations that kept spilling over–especially when I was trying to have phone calls and my kids became particularly attention-seeking. I lost track of how many times my son announced: “I’m hungry!” today.

It seems that so much felt empty. Maybe he could sense the depletion in me, and that made it all the more pressing that he would want to be filled. And so we ate upteen snacks. And we got out the sprinkler and let it saturate into the dry patches of grass and hearts.

And there were the bright spots this week. The car parade at my daughter’s school as we celebrated the official end of her year. Creating Thurgood Marshall Airport on the driveway. Putting together planes that zoomed across the yard. Mixing together fake snow.

And the gift of taking the kids by the church where new signs are posted.

While I can’t say I feel fully filled, I can feel the grace of looking up with hope into a newly dressed window. I can tap into last week’s renewal and recall the waves that made my son belly laugh. I can give thanks that it is not up to me to hold everything all together. It is one bead at a time finding its place. It is one plane a day coming in for a chalky landing on our driveway. It is the knowing that we can be enough for one another for now. And I am thankful for all those on the other side of the phone, and letters, and Zoom who are our heart fillers.

6.17.20 Birthday Week

We are smack dab in the midst of birthday week over here. My husband and I have a week between our birthdays and so we find that the celebrations blend together. We got some time away at a remote cabin this past weekend. What a gift to explore waterfalls with our children. A gift to take in scenes away from our immediate community for a couple of days. A gift to sleep on hard mattresses that make us appreciate the comforts of home again.

Here are some snapshots from our journey in West Virginia and back. Thanks to our church family who not only sang at the end of worship, but who showed up with mid-week cake. The kids sang to us as we soaked it all in. My kids tried to eat each and every sprinkle that fell from this two-layered treat. They like to squeeze all the celebration out of these days, too.

Yesterday we picked as many strawberries as would fit in our big farm box. And we recall what it is to eat fruit from the vine. We recall what it is to give thanks for those who are regularly harvesting our food.

This all amidst the ongoing challenges and rally cries that resound now. We have all kinds of wishes for resistance and joy in the year to come. Right alongside the new butterflies up at the church corner, we believe in transformation. May it be so.