Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tree House

It looked very different when we moved in. Six little arborvitaes had been planted near the foundation, dwarfed by the jutting bulkhead of our facade. We had a century maple, ailing, on the north side of the house and a couple of old maples in the back. In the bigger one we tied ropes to the lateral branches to make swings for the grandsons who used them for years. I loved to come home from work and swing with my head thrown back like a little child, gazing up at the winter evening stars. Even then, the maples were so diseased and hollow that the tree trimmer said he would never climb them again.

So we planted cotton wood, weeping willow, pin oak, redbud, and I don't know what else. We just stuck things in the ground and hoped some would survive. All of them have.

In the front we planted clump birches, pin oaks, a Bradford pear, red maple, ash and redbud. Any of these trees would have been big enough to fill the yard but instead they have all grown and filled in. I've tried to "layer" them, limbing up so that there are mid and upper story branches.

It looks like an animal sanctuary or the beginning of the movie "Shrek": birds and rabbits and squirrels "tweet, tweet, twittering" around the yard. The tips of the branches overlap, forming roadways for the squirrels to run from tree to tree. It's lush and leafy, almost too green. But I like living in my tree house, shaded from the blazing afternoon sun and shielded from passers by.

Years ago my mother-in-law, Emy, and I would sit outside in the late afternoons. From our perspective on the porch, we would place bets when the red maple would reach or exceed the apex of our neighbors' roof across the street. She'd laugh at the ash because it didn't look like a tree at all, more like a stalk of celery. I insisted that it would assume the appearance of a tree eventually.

These days, as I look up through the mature canopy, I think about which branches need to be removed because they're brushing up against the house or cutting out too much sunlight for even the shade loving plants in the under story. The big old maple out back is gone and I miss the boys swinging on it. I wish Emy were here to see how the ash has grown into a real tree and not just an odd celery-top looking thing and that the red maple is now as tall as the house.

What will the next owners think when they move in? I wonder if they'll think we were crazy to plant all of these trees and have them all taken down. They might not like living in a tree house, after all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Prayer of Forgiveness

Something I said or did or didn't do or couldn't do has pinned me like a butterfly to a board.

I am bound. Captive. Held for ransom.

I am muted. Silenced. Stifled, like a hand over my mouth; violated, violent.

I am baffled. Wounded. Confused.... as if my world is tilted, I stumble.

I am stunned. Impoverished. Powerless to improve or disapprove or reprove.

I am angry. Indignant. Frustrated, I reach out, lash out, cry out.

"Forgive as you have been forgiven." I do, I do, I do;

Help me in my unforgiveness.

Let me live this prayer and employ it at all turns: that the darkness may not descend upon my light and that the one who owns it may no longer be captive to it.

Forgive, forgive, o forgive the one who wills to forgive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Between

It's hard to put into words. It's like I'm living on a precipice, teetering over the edge of the falls. The view is phenomenal, the thrill is exhilarating, yet I have an awareness of how precious life is and how quickly things could change.

I hurt for my sick and ailing parents whose days are growing darker. I'm no expert on the subject but research has shown that life is 100% fatal and my folks are no exception. It's painful to watch as they grapple with their own and each others illnesses. Both have bright minds that are being turned inward towards pain and suffering. More and more things are done for them that they can no longer do for themselves. And they are fearful of losing command of their lives and their possessions and thereby autonomy.

Yet I've never known such joy in living as I have today. My husband and I are more in love than ever. My work is satisfying and it compels me to rise early every day and hurry to the studio. I'm living in between.

We're heading for Alabama in the morning. Dad has had two surgeries, three ambulance trips to the emergency room and four admittances. I don't know what to expect as we return. I know one thing, my work is cut out for me: I've got to encourage them and help to hold up Bud's hands. He's strong but needs support.

Forgive me if I sound selfish when I wonder when I get to take a vacation that isn't to see the family in Alabama. Tim and I took one trip to Wisconsin three years ago for a weekend in Two Rivers. Alright, we took a load of pottery to sell, but it was primarily a vacation. Our first ever in 35 years that didn't have family at the other end. The first morning we woke up to a phone call from the nursing home that Tim's mom had passed away during the early morning.

But really, aren't we always living between two worlds? Aren't we, as Christians, working and waiting for the "big reveal" when Jesus comes again? The Bible tells us that when he returns it is for judgement against evil and wickedness, but also to do the ultimate makeover on the earth. We aren't just pilgrims passing through this life, but passengers on a wayward planet, struggling to do what is in our power to preserve and restore people and the earth to their right relationship.

So, even though my life and work are richer and more fulfilling every day, I am aware of the slender thread that holds it all together. That thread will snap any day and one of my precious parents will pass through the veil, to be shortly followed by the other. This is life, lived in between.