Hope and a Future

December 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The morning was still dark. I crawled deeper into the sanctuary of the blankets. I wasn’t ready. Little murky lists of undone things and must-be-done things nipped at me from within. Twisting away from one forced me to face another. Ten more minutes of unconsciousness, could it be had, would bolster me.

The familiar silhouette of my dearest one popped into the blue-gray path of my deeply smeared vision. Without glasses, the whole world looks like large, colored clots of wool. In the blue-grey haze, he was bouncing.

“Tiiiiiiiiime to get up!” My rooster had crowed. Beneath the blanket, this hen ruffled her feathers. “Not without coffee.”

This is a daily negotiation. Will he stay for less than five minutes without me while I go get milk and water for coffee? He never wants to stay. Often, it’s raining. In recent weeks, early mornings are cold. We negotiate. We Skype.

Frost glittered at my elbows as I walked the familiar path to the big house. The forecast said rain/snow mix. I didn’t hold out hope of real snow. My little one’s face bobbed in front of the camera. “Mama? Mama? Hi! Where are you!”  I watch him like he’s a miracle. He’s a miracle. I put love in my gas tank, which could still use some coffee. I can make this day o.k.

Back from the frosted tufts of Kris’s backyard, coffee began. We hunkered down inside, filling our atmosphere with warmth. Christmas lights strung over our window twinkled on the milky surface of our cups. I prayed to let a little of that sparkle shine out from within, and I reached for my sewing box.

Energy sparked as craft supplies covered the bed. J has always loved my sewing box. Careful hands examined one needle at a time as I handed him the ones he requested. A tiny finger touched each tip, “Ow!” or “Not too bad!” often came back to me. Finally, we found the round tipped yarn needle, and he got to work.

With an unused Christmas card, a crop-a-dile, and some yarn, we created a hanging for our front door. (In the Episcopal Church, you celebrate Christmas for 12 days, until Epiphany. Making Christmas decorations and cookies, singing Christmas songs, and all other Christmas-y stuff is still on.) The bottom of the card said, “Happy Holidays”. He insisted I cut it off, but not damage it.

“We’ll hang this up, too!” he said. That way everyone will know we are holiday people!”

He thrilled at the feel of punching the holes, of passing the long, slick needle through hole after hole. Together, a new thing came to life. “This is fun!” he cried. I let myself enjoy a small moment of success.

When it was done, he was ready to hang it. “Put it right out front! Let everybody know!”  I opened the door and froze. It was snowing. It seemed it might even be sticking. “Babe, let’s go for a walk.”

He was ready. He wanted to shovel. I couldn’t find his shovel (I am afraid we left it at Saint Ann’s). He wanted to eat snow. I put a bowl outside to catch some for our return. “Around the block…” I told myself. I didn’t want to be cold. I didn’t want to be wet; but it doesn’t snow in this part of Washington; we had to go out.

The snow was over an inch thick by the time we left. I forgot that I wanted to stay home. I was warm in my coat and everything was pretty. The boy practically leapt as he collected the energy of nature. His bounce took on a skipping motion, and his arms swung in a rhythm that paid it compliment. Handfuls of wet, perfect snow compressed and flew, polka-dotting our coats with celebration. We laughed. We played.

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I found a semi-sanitary row of parking barriers, one where cars never actually park. I scooped up snow. Lost in the white sky was the expulsion of a nearby paper mill. It snows once a year in Washington. One taste…

I ate it. Crisp and clean, it tasted like good water. “Can I?!?!?” The bounce, with the strength of snowflakes, became a vault.

“Here comes Susie Snowflake,
dressed in a snow-white gown,
tap tap tapping at your window pane
to tell you she’s in town!”

I sang without shame in the streets; but that is how I usually do it. Lacking some kind of natural barriers, I am a natural at making myself the fool. Still, singing is more joyful than composure, so I sang.

“If you want to build a snowman
I’ll help you make one one-tw0-three!
If you want to take a sleigh ride,
the ride’s on me!”

As we came to a corner, we saw a family playing. A mother, father, young girl and tiny boy scooped snow as they talked. “Look!” I cried, “People! Let’s go talk to them!”.

At the same time I said it, I felt regret. Over exuberant public singing is one thing. Rejection sucks; but I’m perpetually self-conscious and perpetually hopeful.

J turned to me, “Can I go, Mama??”

“Of course!” I told him, “Go!”

My ambassador blazed the trail while I measured. The sad little girl in me had a different pace, even as my heart ran ahead. Were we going to be o.k.?

With each snowball, I studied the faces of our accidental friends. Slowly, conversation began. Soon, we were cooperating to build not one, but two snow people out of the Washington snow. So precious and rare, we would elevate it even higher through a community of laborers.

The little girl and I started first. “I am so glad you came here today,” this six-year-old told me. “You need to give us your phone number so we can play, again.”

My heart jumped up. I looked at the mother. She wasn’t frowning! A tiny trill, like the rise of a flute, lit inside me. Friends?

Soon, our activities crisscrossed the yard, lifted on the sweet buoyancy of fellowship. The mother and I touched minds, and hearts soon followed. We shared so many of the same values. Small children, like magical sprites leapt around us. “Children are a gift!” I offered. “If only more people realized that!” echoed my new friend. A bond was budding.

The little girl, Abby, and I rolled like we meant it. “Yours is bigger than mine,” she lamented. “I don’t want the biggest one,” I told her. “I only want to be a part.” Together we constructed not one, but two snow people. “We should make them kissing,” she said.

As time took itself back, bit by bit, Abby continued to extend and invite. We had already been invited for numerous meals and play-dates when she said, “Do you want to come in and eat? My dad will cook for you.”

In her tiny face shone the love of Christ; and most especially, the Christ of Christmas. In the fresh and fragile essence of a babe came the message of something new. It came as a child, delicate as a child, without rigidness, without ferocity, without pomp. A humble hand, a tiny hand, reached for us. In the gesture, a simple invitation: Love.

I leaned over and I rolled. I heard her father cry out, “It was your idea, and now you are not doing the work!” I answered back, “I don’t mind!” I finished the sentence in my mind, “I love to serve.” I served the purpose of joy. I served the purpose of fellowship, I served the purpose of love.

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After over an hour, it was clear my babe and I weren’t prepared for the snow. The yard’s bounty of white had been smashed, rolled and thrown almost to it’s own end. “Ow!” cried my boy, and a shocking, sock-less foot slipped out of his boot. It’s as if his toes have built in sock ejectors. I can’t keep them on. I was horrified as I surveyed the pink, sock-less toes.

Within moments, our new mama friend, Emily, had a solution. She had shoes, and dry socks, ready to share. I looked toward her and opened to to God. With a nod, she was holding his feet.

Bent over him, she slipped on warm purple socks and small sneakers as I stood back and watched. In the bend of her head I saw our own Mary. From our conversations, her essence was more radiant than snow. She was a sister, serving in love. I rested in the unexpected love of the day. The Spirit was alive. The Spirit was carrying us.

I woke up so tired. I didn’t want to go one step. As life’s requirements propelled me as our God of Love took my hand. Like a relay runner, I grabbed the baton. Later, with a snowy glove, I passed it.

When we got home we were soaked and tired, but we glowed with promise and peace. New friends! Abby promised us a play date. A new life! God promises peace. In the bliss of God’s own sanctuary, we celebrate it all.

Amen.

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