Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jesus Sleeps

I always found the Bible passage about Jesus sleeping in the boat as peculiar. His apostles were thrown by the wind and waves, but for Jesus, the elements only rocked him like a cradle. He was made for storms, made for chaos, made to live and die among them, and by so doing, he subdued them.

We forget that though fully divine, Jesus was human.

Mary, Jesus' mother had the privilege of watching her savior sleep. We think of our own loved ones sleeping. How serene they are. It is a personal privilege we enjoy in intimate relationships. Archbishop Martinez contemplates this aspect of Christ, that He slept. I heard that Martinez said that (in so many of my feeble words) that the splendor and beauty of Christ awake, expresses his love and mercy for humanity. He goes on to say that he wished that he could have the experience that Mary had of gazing upon the serenity of the Savior as He slept; how Jesus awake was far too great for his own smallness. How maybe that the sleeping Jesus could invigorate his faith, his peace, his calm...that God's silence is a way of leading us to a stronger faith as we grow and trust that He is still with us, though He sleeps.

As a caregiver, I am close to the reality that life only continues one day at a time.

As an aging lifeguard and an old swimmer, I think back through the lens of teenage sunglasses and see how God prepared me for this experience, today.

It is in swimming against the tide that I feel most like myself. As a swimmer, I thought nothing of venturing to the beach on a lonely overcast Sunday to swim in the open chop of the Atlantic. Unsupervised, away from the pop musical Pompano Pier. I donned my goggles and struggled between swimming against the current and allowing the waves to carry me. Practicing my strokes in the choppy waves made me a stronger swimmer. Even the salt and the buoyancy of the water lent an adventure to swimming that the man made chlorinated pool could not.

And sharks? There had never been reason to think or fear that such a fin may swim by and take my arm off.

I was trusting. Before my awareness of God as my savior, He was there. Deep down in the conception of my being, I knew Him within the water of my mother's womb.

It was later, in the desert of the world, in relationships with drying decaying mortal souls that I experienced the arid absence of God. It was when I thirsted.

In a way, the ocean on Sunday was my church, my place where I sensed God's presence. The psalmist says, "Where can I go that God isn't there? To the depths of the ocean?" Even in the detritus of a graveled lot; raked by man of all green life, sandy, littered by broken glass. God manifested himself to me as beads of sweat above my lip, upon my brow. He was there too. I cried out, not knowing who I was crying to, "Please, Truth, whatever you are...save me!" And then, I swear, a breeze blew cool upon my face.

All that water, all that swimming, prepared me. The waves let me know that storms are to be expected. Again, it is against the current that I swim. It is to what I am accustomed.

I will not drown.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Memoir

I'm going to pretend. I will reconstruct a memory; what it was like swimming within the womb of my mother.

I didn't want to move. There was this sound- steady - like a muffled drum- underwater.

...like a thump, an echo bubble, with waves, leagues underneath,

...movements of water- without air - to soften the blow of sound...

... as a thought starting from Heaven,

...I needed a watery introduction,

...the ear drums needing a buffering from the texture of earth.

...It would have all been too much,

...If it were not for water.

I was an unexpected soul. Not an accident. No one is.

A surprise? Yes.

An interruption? Yes. Except this is when they made their plans.

It is good. Those little conceptions. Don't despise small beginnings.

They are beginnings. For otherwise, there'd be no plans.
There'd be no middle.
There'd be no you and me,
No love,
No eternity...

So they had to set up a crib, a highchair, a playpen.

My parents had met on a bus. A Greyhound, no less.

Both were travelling, in transition in their separate lives,

One from nursing school, the other from the minors' in baseball.

It was a juncture.
I was the junction.

I was a knowing soul. Oh, details? I don't recall. I only know what I've been told. But through these pieces, these images my mother describes, I can see and feel 'how it was.'

I walked late, not until 15 months. Was I lazy? no, I wouldn't say that. It makes sense to me now. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning and face all I have as bullets on a list (through the heart), it takes me a few minutes to get moving. Rob brings me my coffee. I stare out at the mountains, collecting and gathering  my bearings, through the watery glass of window.

When my daughter Danika made her debut, I tried to put it off, as a play on words, during labor, I tried to 'belabor the point.'

I lied in the quiet dark cocoon of the hospital delivery room, dozing, not moving, so as not to stir a contraction.

But alas, Dr. Lee and Rob sitting next to each other in the still of that room, their masculine brains leaning guard against the wall, prompted me to get the show on the road.

"Are we going to have a baby tonight?", said Dr. Lee.

The lights turned on and I got to work.

Danika was born at midnight, her cry mewled like a strong kitten, girlish.
She made me a mother of daughters.

-But back to me in the womb...

I was not about to be upside down, head first, plunging into the ocean of the world.

No... I stayed near my mother's heart beat- where it was safe and warm. It settled me.

I didn't want to be born.

My midwife, when I was pregnant with Katie, asked about my birth.

"Hmmmm", she peered over her readers, her gray strands giving her a credibility of an all knowing granola cruncher.

"Breech babies are intelligent. When the mother is stressed, these babies stay near the mother's heart beat."

Did God calm my mother too?

Blood, sweat, tears...water.

My birthday marked not only my entrance into the world, but also birthed a mother,

My mother...

Then...me...then my sons, Paul, Scott, Mark,
Then my daughters, Danika, Katie, and Beth.

And so eternity continues...

And we remember our mothers.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Front Yard Tye Dye

I think photos help us remember. Many pictures taken of my kids, I'm not in them, because well, I was the one snapping the camera.

I tried very hard to imprint certain memories in my brain, like an old fashioned Xerox machine. I'd think, "You'll want to remember this."

They were significant events like birthday parties and first words, but they were also the everyday stuff, like wake ups from naps and fevers during mid-night.

I was aware that the kids would have their own take on the situations later on.

I didn't realize how much their memories would mean to me though...

Did Mark remember this summer hot, hot! (and I mean one of the hottest ever) days because I took pictures? Or would he recall it anyway, because the colors were vivid, the sun sweltering, the popsicles cool...the cicadas buzzing, the geraniums blooming?

Well I'm not sure, but I can't read his writing without a catch in my throat, and I'm sure glad I took a lot of pictures.

And there would be one more to make eight: 3 sons and 3 daughters

                                                           Front Yard Tye Dye

My brother kicks the ball to me,

We chase back and forth,

The courtyard seems miles long and wide.

My Mom calls us in,

"They're almost dry."

Sporadic blasts and twists of color,

All five siblings each has their own,

...but all by the grace of Mom's hands.

She washes our paws of dirt and melted popsicle.

We were so happy...

The seven of us living in that Virginia apartment.

Life was so simple.