A Catalogue of Beautiful Things

There is the way the sun is coming in through the white curtains at the window in our new bedroom. Don’t ask me about this, I am surprised, frankly, that everyone came out relatively unharmed and alive. Swapping bedrooms was possibly my worst and also my best idea, the girls needed more room and our room was larger. Casey and I don’t spend a lot of time playing Barbies in our room so….

Three beds that needed to be completely dismantled, two closets to clean out, and an office to relocate to the dungeon basement. We moved in phases and it took 11 hours. But now the girls have room to play, their room becomes cluttered less quickly because they have more places to put their junk, and our room beckons to me all day with its white curtains fluttering in the breeze and its enormous bed.

Every year I mean to cut the Lily of the Valley like I used to do in the spring when we lived up north, up there it took up the whole side of the house, and not being a huge fan of side yards I was completely ok with that. Tonight I remembered and I got down on my knees in my crab grass front yard with a plastic bowl and I snipped and snipped and filled the bowl. I imagined that being on my knees in my front yard, cutting flowers that smell like my mother and are delicate and fleeting, rooting around amidst the lilies that haven’t bloomed and getting cocoa bean shells under my nails, I imagined it was no different than kneeling in church which I rather miss as we celebrate the Great Fifty Day of Easter by not kneeling.

Now there is small vase in every bedroom, a large spray in the living room and it smells as though my mother has just left the room and will be re entering shortly, which is comforting and sad all at once. By the time she walks through my kitchen again the Lily of the Valley will be long gone, replaced with leaves turning golden and giving up their summer cloaks for the rough bark that will protect them through the long dark winter.

As the choir gathered for their last rehearsal of the season last night we all clucked and groaned and sighed and made our way to the chancel steps to practice a round called Hail Sweet Music. There was much sniggering at a another rehearsal about everyone going “straight to hail”…. There have also been many discussions on how this round should be sung, because the music doesn’t make it clear. But we gathered and shifted and then we sang and it was so lovely. Another beautiful thing, harmonies and people who are young and not exactly so, all standing on the steps, and singing out into a brightly lit, nave a round.

Last night we made cheeseburgers for the soup kitchen, Kenny manned the grill and the ladies handled the sides and they went like hotcakes. I walked out to see if the next batch was ready and Ave came too, and we went the wrong way around to the front of the building where our own Homeless Jesus lays on his bench, faceless and alone. And my Ave, in the sunlight glinting off the red doors and the traffic going by and the lawn people cutting the lawn, she sat down at His feet and she stroked his legs. And then she said, wait a minute mama, I need to kiss him but I can’t find his face. Why doesn’t he have a face? 

And I paused and I thought of all the things I could say that would satisfy a six year old. And I watched the smoke coming off the grille and the way the tulips were blooming in the prayer garden and I took a leap and I told the very hard truth. I said, He doesn’t have a face because what he represents is all of us human people, everyone in the world, the good people and the bad people, all of us, and he tells us that we have to love all the people, no matter if they sleep on a park bench instead of a bed. So if the artist gave him a face then maybe we wouldn’t see that.

She said, so I have to kiss all the people? Ok. 

And then she skipped off through the prayer garden to watch her new friend as he grilled burgers.

And I was amazed at how it is so simple for her, so easy, right now, to love the whole world and not think twice.

Another beautiful moment.

And now there is a “Ramona and Her Mother” book on the back of toilet, there is a blanket that my great grandmother made laying on the floor with a little girl laying on top of it, enjoying its heavy and cushy feel. There is an old dog who chased a stick tonight and acted every bit the pup he once was. There is an almost 11 year old who has grown up so fast, and whom I don’t know how to slow, laying on the couch full of her daddy’s burgers and a tiredness that is bone deep from spending three days with her peers at camp and a math test coming tomorrow.

There is Pentecost, where I will wear red and sing a really hard song that I almost have sung enough times to make easy. And then Trinity Sunday, and our final choir Sunday of the season. I should be looking forward to rest, and somehow, that isn’t my way. I thrive in the busy, in the doing, in the making things happen.

But I know that more moments will come, I know that they are a never ending flood and a sort of payment for trying so hard to be a light in a place that is so dark and broken that it sometimes drags me in too.

But tonight there is a catalogue of beauty, things I can look back on one day, as I sit in a vinyl chair made to tolerate my weak bladder and contemplate the lilacs that one of my thoughtful children has brought to me, as I look back and hopefully remember a life of service, and girls who, likewise, find their happiness there.

These are beautiful things, turn them over in your hands, set them in a place where they will catch the light, cut them and put them in a vase so that their scent fills your home and reminds you that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

But that there is so much in between.

Maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me….


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