April 2011


Whatever. Combine that with a shoulder shrug and … there you have it, kid code for “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care.” Or maybe, “I don’t want to deal with what you are talking to me about.”

A young woman I know used the W word the other day. She has faced many challenges over the years, some things inconvenient and some things tragic. After yet again receiving bad news, she did a whatever. Complete with shoulder shrug. But I don’t think she was expressing an I don’t care, but rather a God, you’ve already done it with me so many times. I know you’ll do it with me this time, too. Her journey has provided her with the ability to say whatever to her God.

Faith. Experience. Thankfulness. Counting it all joy.

Submission. Surrender. Sacrifice.

Whatever. It doesn’t get much more faithful than that word.

Finances are uncertain? Whatever.

Life throws a curve? Whatever.

Friends are sick with cancer? Whatever.

Decisions need to be made? Whatever.

Relationships are challenging? Whatever.

Plans get changed? Whatever.

Today I am embracing my own whatever. Whatever, God. In you, in your will, through your grace … whatever.

It is Tuesday. Easter Sunday has come and gone. Yesterday, Monday, the day after … I could still feel it. But today is the day after the day after, and already I feel it slipping away.

While we were away on holidays last week, I read the gospel of Mark several times. As I read the last chapters, I pictured each day of that week as it happened … the triumphal entry, the cursing of the tree and the cleansing of the temple, the passover, the trial, the end … the beginning. I read the words and I tried to put myself there. And I felt it. A little. I could almost see it.

But today I struggle. I see laundry and mud and yard work that needs to be done. And coughing children.

So I stop for a few minutes. Pause. To remember that, even then, in those days after, they didn’t always see him. It wasn’t always easy.

I lift my head and look around. And I see the green plants on the window sill, and the one shiny fingerprint-free window pane that I washed yesterday, and my grandma’s yellow bowl on the kitchen counter. I smell the baking cookies, nutmeg and cinnamon and butter. I touch the top of my boy’s head as he walks by, and grab his hand, and fold him in for a hug.

I breathe and I allow the prick of tears that I feel for some reason known only to Him because that is how He made me. And I feel it. A little.

He is risen. The day after the day after; He is here. If I look, I see.

My husband and I are in Banff for a few days. The kids are with my parents and Lyndon and I are spending some quiet time together. And I do mean quiet. Banff, by Banff standards, is practically deserted. Several stores have closed or are in the process of closing since we were here last. The economy?

Poor Lyndon is sick, though. He has been fighting a cold for a while. Today he surrendered and has spent most of his time in bed, sleeping lots with the help of some cool, drowsy-making drugs. So I have been on my own.

I took a long walk this morning, following the Bow River to the bridge. There were geese everywhere, enjoying the sun like the rest of us. I wandered in and out of some shops, bought the book The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Giller winner), and ended up at the food court in the mall for a few hours – reading, writing a bit,  and people-watching …

… A few tables from me, a young woman cries into her cell phone. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she says, over and over. Finally, she clicks her phone shut, blows her nose in her napkin, and walks away.

… An Asian (is it politically correct to say Asian?) family sits at another table. The oldest man does most of the talking. He looks very wise and Sensei-ish to me. Why is it that elderly Asian men look so wise?

… A trio of young girls ask the man at the table next to me to take a picture of them. They pose in front of the ski display, and giggle as they thank him after.

… A tiny woman circles the food court, gathering trays and garbage and straightening chairs. I try to catch her eye and smile each time she passes, but she ignores me.

… A grandma walks by holding a little girl by the hand, assuring her over and over that Mommy will be back soon.

… A baby screams while his mother tries to settle him into his stroller. The cries end abruptly as soon as she starts pushing.

My table wobbles as I write. The smell of curry from the Sri Lankan food booth mingles with the sounds of many accents and languages. Young people rush by in their ski wear and woolen toques with over-sized pom poms bouncing on the tops of their heads. I think about my kids and look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

I wonder, as I gather my things and walk back to the hotel, what the young woman was so sorry about.

This morning I am in the before holiday time. The packing, organizing, last minute time. I’m anticipating tomorrow. But today is the doing. The getting there.

I’m looking at the weather forecast and seeing snow and rain and cold. I’m looking at the pile of clean, folded laundry and thinking, I need to pack. I see my dog and the dirty dishes and the muddy porch and the list on the fridge, and I think, it is so much work to go. I look at the clock and I dread the next few hours of getting ready. So I sit down, take a breath, sip my tea. Write a few words.

And I remember why.

I will be blessed by two days at a homeschool conference, sitting at the feet of Sally Clarkson, who I have read and loved since I first started homeschooling. I am thirsty for this. For time with other homeschooling moms. For a chance to sit and listen and be encouraged. For reuniting with friends. I will drink deep and long this weekend.

I will be blessed by four days next week in the mountains with my husband. Snow or sunshine, I am thirsty for this. For time with him. For time. I am thankful for parents who will care for my children.

I will be blessed by time spent with my family, away from the concerns and the chores and the routines of our lives.

I look forward to these things, these times. I thank Him for the blessings that will be, and for His grace today. For all the doing that must happen today to support the going and the resting and the renewing.

It is the way of things. The work before the feast. The labour before the reward. The time before is important. The rest is sweeter for it.