Wednesday, April 30, 2008

turn, turn, turn...

Remember that song?

"To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time, to every purpose, under heaven." (The Byrds)

It's been haunting me lately, that tune from my youth. It is a new season for me, both figuratively and literally, and I'm struggling mightily to transform from dry winter wood to delicate blossom with courage and grace.

Where in the world have I been these past few weeks? I hate to take the "dog ate my homework" route with this blog, but I do have some really good excuses this time. Spring has come to my Michigan town (at least off and on) and with it a flurry of activity.

I've been spending lots of time with my six-year-old son, Luke. He and I have been taking walks around our neighborhood nearly every day. Like all my children, he is extraordinary. He is so intelligent and sensitive, so alert to the beauty of the world. He is special to me because I am seeing more and more that he is a bit of a "mini-me." (Finally, on child six, and in a positive way -- he imitates my GOOD qualities!) A Michigan spring is glorious, and Luke has been glorying in observing the changes. As we walked on his birthday, he stooped to collect a tiny flower growing in a neighbor's yard. "Look Mama! A tiny blue child!" he exclaimed. I'm in heaven.

I've been spending lots of time with my daughters, Rachel and Lauren. Both are getting married this summer, leaving our little nest to start families of their own with wonderful young men. I am overcome with joy and wonder. Where did the time go? I know I am starting to sound like one of those old women who pinches the cheeks of everyone under 30. But seriously, I swear it was just yesterday that I was selecting their First Communion dresses. And now, in three weeks, my eldest child will be a married woman.

Truth be told, I've not been spending nearly enough time with my other children, AJ, Joey and John, although we did manage to wrap up the so-called homeschooling that had been going on here this year. Joey did get his share of attention these past few weeks as we've decided to send him to "real" school next year. My little boy will be leaving me, boarding a real live school bus every morning and leaving his mother! My goodness, the child is only 13 years old! Oh dear, I think we will manage, but I must admit a good bit of my heart will board that bus with him.

My husband will tell you he is getting no attention at all, but that's not entirely true. He started a new job this month, after 18 years with the same company. For me that means he is no longer three minutes away, but thirty. It means I have to find new doctors with our new health insurance, and eventually meet all those new folks he's working with. It means that I'm praying for him every day, knowing that he is so talented and hoping his new employer will keep on seeing that. It means that each day I'm eager to hear all the details about his new daily life, and that even though the children are keeping me so busy lately I want to keep reminding my husband that he is my priority. I am so proud of him and love him so much, but sometimes it's hard to make that seem real, isn't it?

Long overdue is the good deal of time I've been spending taking care of myself lately. I renewed my gym membership, rediscovering the intense pleasure of pushing myself just a little harder each day, walking a little faster, lifting a heavier weight, doing just one more rep. It makes me feel strong, reminds me that I am strong, strong as I need to be to keep my life in balance.

That's what it's been this past month, a balancing act, a test of my priorities. I only mentioned a tiny portion of what I've been thinking about, what I've been doing. Didn't spend any time at all talking about the relationships with my elderly parents, best friend, and neighbors, responsiblities at church, household repairs and yardwork, or even that crazy garage sale we're having this weekend. (What am I thinking?) Don't even need to mention that we were visited yesterday by the fire department (the microwave is fine but the biscuit is toast) and spent time in the ER (in an unrelated incident involving Luke's forehead and a door.) Oh dear, oh dear.

You've guessed by now that this blog and all other writing projects did not make the cut these past few weeks. With no regrets I must acknowledge what I know is true. It's just not in season. It is a time to observe the wondrous transformation going on all around me and within me right now. Like a Michigan spring, it is magnficent and beautiful with chartruese budding trees and magnolias that bloom on a Monday and cover the ground by Wednesday. Like all things truly beautiful, this time is fragile. If I close my eyes for even a second, I will miss it. And I cannot miss it. There is a time for every purpose under heaven, and this is the time to glory in spring, in all its transient beauty.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

in full bloom

Words are a net to catch beauty!

When I read those words years ago, as a college student, I felt a shiver run down my spine. Yes! my soul shouted. That's just how I feel! Words were my friends, as near and dear to me as my sorority sisters and the boys from Sigma Phi Epsilon. I had fallen in love at an early age, and had never quite gotten over this first crush. Words spoke to me (of course they did, that's what words are for, right?) But it was as if we shared a secret language. I would reread books just to enjoy the sentences composed by my favorite writers, savoring the delicious morsels prepared just for me from that delectable storehouse of goodies -- the alphabet.

Strange? More than a little, I guess, but true enough. Once I learned how to read and write, to understand that these precious little gems of language could be combined in myriad ways to delight, educate, astound and scandalize, I was hooked. I longed to be caught up in that net of beauty, awash in the truth and power of language.

So when I saw those words, written just so that I could love them, I knew I had found a story that I would turn to again and again. It's a short story by Tennessee Williams, and I don't know if it's considered a classic or not. All I know is that once I fell headlong into Williams' net, I was a goner.

The story is set on a college campus. Its heroine, the angsty Myra, pens my favorite phrase in the back of a notebook, and then goes on to have a fling with a strange, moody boy who writes poetry (instead of her usual beau, the boy she is supposed to love.) This new boy's name is Homer, and the gal he normally hangs out with is named Hertha, for heaven's sake. How he and Myra wind up together is gloriously simple and complicated and unexplained; how like real life! I loved reading it when I was 19, and I love it now. I admit I don't quite know why. But I do know for certain that this story touched me in a unique, profound way.

The pivotal scene in the story occurs in my favorite place in the whole world. Homer takes Myra there on a moonlit night, and her breath catches as she looks out at the most wonderful sight. Before them is a meadow filled with delicate blue flowers, their fragrance filling the air, their petals lifted by the wind. They are at the field; the field of blue children.

We all know what happens at the field. Myra puts it behind her, and goes on the marry the boy who is right for her. But one day she returns to the field, just for a day, just because she must.

Friends have asked where I got the name for this blog, and there it is. I believe each of us has a "field of blue children", a place we return to when we need to experience life. My field is the place where I am safe. The place where I can be with my words, experiencing the comfort they provide for me. It is my creative corner of the world, the place where I am free to create and dream, to make mistakes, try things on. It is my place to be young again.

So the blue children are not blue babies (although I had one of those dear ones to love.) They are not the four sons I am rearing, and they are not sad, even though my life is overwhelmed with all things manly and plenty of sorrow! My blue children are my words, my wonderful, amazing, life-giving bouquet of blossoms, linked together, stem to stem, a net to hold me fast and safe.

You may read my favorite short story, "The Field of Blue Children,"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

and now for a word from our sponsor

I've had the honor of being interviewed by some of the best folks in Catholic radio, including Teresa Tomeo and Al Kresta. Most recently I shared Celeste's story with Judy Zarick of American Catholic Radio in Cincinnati. I'm not sure which Catholic stations air this syndicated program, but you can hear the segment by selecting program #08-14 when you get to this page of their site. (It is also running on the air through April 6.)

Our conversation is featured in the "Living Faith" segment (about five minutes into this show.) I'm quite pleased with the program, despite the fact that I had a bad cold on the day we spoke and I don't quite sound my usual amazing self!

Please let me know if you are able to access the show. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

april fool's!

Those of you who clicked on the link in yesterday's post have been rickrolled!

Sorry, I couldn't resist this little April Fool's Day joke. My daughter got me yesterday morning and I just had to pass on the trick to you all. The youtube site rickrolled everyone that visited there yesterday, linking every video to that Astley song. Over five million of us joined in the fun. Good times!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

a great site

My daughter sent me this awesome site that I had to share with everyone. It's definitely worth your time. (Thanks, Rachel!)