Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Can.... Canoe?

Roll your eyes. Analogy time. I'm a young girl, in my canoe on the river of life. I find an excellent partner to paddle along with me, and though we skirmish a bit deciding who will steer, we settle into a rhythm before long. Of course we hit the rapids, and they look very frightening indeed right before we run a narrow, rocky, steep section. Class five sometimes. A couple of capsizing episodes, but we get back in and paddle like mad. We make the calm, glassy, deep part and lie back, resting our arms and catching our breath. The sun beats down and we get a little crispy, so we don't mind the cliffs that block the sun even if they mean more rapids. We have helmets by now, with our acquired respect for rocks that jut up in the most inopportune spots.
One day I look around the canoe for a particular thing, only to find so much stuff. We have filled our little boat with so much stuff. It's a wonder we can float at all. It's a wonder we can find the things we really need, like paddles. But lightening our load can be tricky. Stuff that seems burdensome to me might my partner's important something. And vice versa. But we do shed some stuff, and gain a little room to maneuver.
For a short while (maybe years, yes?) I thought I needed to give steering advice to every canoe within shouting distance. They needed the benefit of my expertise, right? And I clearly had it figured out. Clearly. What to do in a rainstorm, a pirate attack, a dark night in the tricky part. But, blessedly, I learned a couple of things. Late, maybe, but still...
People like to run the river their own way. Not everyone huddles under overlying branches in the lightening storm. Some people get out and swim for fun! And sure enough, they are able to get back in. Oh, there are some constants that apply to everyone. We are all moving, all carried by the years, by the advancing currents that lead us to old age and beyond, if we are so blessed. We can tie our little boat to moments by our sheer will to remember. But we will continue our journey no matter how much we want to look back to the way it used to be. And if we look back too much, we might miss that beautiful sunset over the Oak Tree ahead. Or the first star barely visible in that soft blue velvet sky. It can be tempting to want a map that shows every feature that lies ahead. But I also have learned that looking down at a map, or a cell phone, or a book, or a computer keeps me from soaking in the scenery around me.
Happy paddling everyone. See you at the seashore.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Our Kathryn Rose, youngest daughter, graduated from college last weekend. It is one of those occasions, like a wedding, when I know I should only feel happiness for the blessing. But there is something about these milestones that emphasizes and exaggerates the passing of time. And that is always sobering, even in the midst of the gratitude.
We say, "seems like yesterday", "I remember when", "where did the time go" and other cliches that have become overused purely through their truth. A dear friend told me on Saturday that he had a very clear vision of Katie running around the bleachers of Josh's basketball games at about ten years of age. Then here she is, a grown woman...and the intervening years were but a blur.
I can call up memories of Katie from any time in her life. The snapshots in my memory are often the ones from ordinary days, not the big occasions. I hold those pictures in my mind and page through them, lingering on the ones that seem so clear that I remember the smells and sounds of the day as well. Her sweaty little face peering up at me, her eyes dancing in hopes that she can convince me to say yes. I think I did, way too often. The way she waited for her brother and sister to do whatever they were involved in by playing something that involved moving around. The way she bragged about her siblings to her friends. The way she danced. Even from the time she was little, she danced outside herself with freedom and abandon. She spent so much time dancing, it is very appropriate that she should have her degree in dance.
I am so happy that she graduated. I am so proud that she is an accomplished, generous young woman. I don't wish any of the years back, nor would I turn back the clock if I could. But I do look back with nostalgia at the time when three children made joyful noise and general mess in our home. When glitter stuck to the floor and little tiny pieces of paper cut outs went through the laundry in pants pockets. When the sound of a basketball bouncing somewhere nearby was the white noise of our home. When the days were filled with lessons and games and concerts and dances. They were very good days. I guess that is the reason I miss them so much.
But enough looking back. When Katie was little, she was always ready to go anywhere, any time. "Let's go!" was most likely her first sentence. Looking forward, I wish her the very same passion that filled her childhood. Go Katie!