I am participating in the Open Letter Challenge writing contest organized by Josh Irby. The following letter is my response to An Open Letter to You from the Rest of the World.


Dear World on a Monday morning,

Here I sit, toast crumbs on the table and cold coffee in my cup, and the day is barely born. I pour out the chilled and add some hot, and its high time, I think, to be calling the children from their beds, and I say so.

Let them sleep, he says, my husband who pretends stern, and I know he’s been softened at the sight of their sleeping selves as he’s passed their rooms on his way to the kitchen. The waking always falls to me.

The weekend had been much and the morning was tired and cool and we sit, just the two of us after chores, and the peace and quiet is a welcome meal before he’s up and gone and the kitchen waits for more.

I sweep my man’s morning into my hand and toss the crumbs into the chicken pail, add fresh slices to the toaster and set clean plates. And they come, after I’ve sent my voice up the stairs two or maybe three times, to sit at the table and rub and stretch and yawn away the sleep and they ask if it’s cold enough yet for hot chocolate for breakfast.

It is, I say, and the day begins, again.

It’s the same, mostly, morning after morning, day after day, and I think sometimes the world is oblivious to these things. These kitchen table things – meals and milk and scriptures read and words prayed – and all the time the children raising up higher in their chairs, inch by inch by inch. Raising up, these three boys, on bowls of porridge and good bread and honey from the farm down the road, and stories and laughter and arguments and apologies.

A day of ordinary in a lifetime of ordinary, and it’s miraculous, the thing that is built out of all this intentional ordinary. In the midst of it, the sweeping up of crumbs and the washing of sticky jam hands, it all happens.

In the midst of it, right as it happens all around me, right in the middle of the mess of all this living – in the midst of it I write. I write my heart into words and I send them away, growing them into stories and it’s like raising children.

Because it’s a little bit out of my control, all these words like all these boys, and it seems to happen as it will, even as I try to do it right. Even as I try to do my very best, it happens. Words and stories and children, it all happens at the kitchen table, the World unknowing of it all.

Until the children grow right up out of those chairs, and the words too, and then, World – well, then we’ll see.