Matt is at work, so I have fallen into the my usual lonesome weekend habits: Dutch baby pancake, coffee, and musicals blasting from the speakers. My parents are coming Tuesday, and I have big plans to clean the attic and the fridge later. A couple times a year my parents descend from the north (usually for a long-distance race of some kind) and visit their older children in a sweeping motion across the east coast. There is a lot of cleaning going on the week before that so that my parents will "think we're responsible" (as one sibling puts it).
Honestly, though, it's an illusion. The last time my parents visited, there were baby chicks in the laundry room.
Baby chicks in the laundry room might sound cute. Charming even. But they are not. For one thing, chicks are noisy. They are loudest when they are unhappy, and our first time around, we didn't know a lot about keeping them happy. Secondly, they smell. Any enjoyment from their fluffy, golf ball-shaped bodies evaporates in the distinct stink of baby chick. Thirdly, about 5% of them die in the first two days.
Agricultural life is gruesome. By the time my parents came, the death toll had evened out, but chicks were still cheeping, eating and pooping right under the loft where my parents were sleeping.
"I bet you never imagined that this would happen one day," I said to my mom.
"Trust me." She shrugged. "This isn't even on my radar of strange."
This year there are no chicks. I'm already ahead.
I've been debating whether it is necessary to address my long absence from writing here. Those of you who keep up with me in this forum, probably already know me well enough to know that my focus has been diverted.
These past few months have been incredibly difficult for me. Perhaps the hardest I have ever lived through. In the wake of a devastating loss, I have painfully sorted through pieces of myself. We've all been there - examining the fault lines we never noticed or ignored. I have been shifting through guilt, remorse, shame, and grief piecing together the truth of who I am in the grace of God. It was difficult for me to see my way to anything creative when I was so shaky in what was true.
I've heard an account of a Russian woman who said, "Of course there is a God. I have a thumb!" The perfection of her dexterity was proof of a perfect Creator.
My proof of God these past six month has been the perfection of His chastisement. I have no words to describe how He has disciplined me and saved me all so completely. There are days when the grief has literally brought me to my knees. But on my knees I find mercy and forgiveness. There has been grace in my life. I know that it must have always been there - God's hand mercifully saving me from myself - but I see it more clearly these days.
Today, in the quite house, glory and grace shine through in the mundane - it is in the smell of butter browning in a cast-iron skillet, the feeling of Henry's silky ears brushing against my leg. The iPod switches to the next song. Almost exactly thirteen years ago, my dad caught my mom up in his arms and twirled her around the kitchen to this song. My brothers and sisters and I watched them rapt, basking in the glow of their love for each other. Now, those memories are carried over to me on the swell of the chorus.
This is a different kind of pain. There is an ache in my chest that comes from the beauty and mystery of it all. It too is enough to make sink to my knees. So I thank God and ask for more mornings like this.