Tuesday, April 22, 2014

kite.

"K is for Kite."

Little kids know all about kites, but you rarely see kids actually flying kites these days. At least not in the city. On Sunday night we took a stroller ride around the neighborhood. It's how we kill time during the evening witching hour. It's how we keep the girls content while burning Jasper's energy. It's how we entertain our neighbors who sit outside enjoying retirement with whiskey and cigars. Bastards.

We were a few blocks from home when we ran into a gaggle of boys - cousins all trying to fly a cheap kite behind a bike. Jasper was enthralled and we watched for over an hour. Most of the time was spent untangling the string or throwing sticks at a tree to get it down. Adults would drive and bike by, remembering their own childhood antics and joyfully offering to help. But the boys refused politely each time. This was their kite, their adventure.

This may have been the first real kite in Jasper's world, which seemed a bit pathetic. So last night we invested in a Lightening McQueen kite from the Dollar Tree and set him up with some low expectations on the way to the park.

It might not fly. It might fall apart. The string might get tangled up. 

Our tidy little boy likes to know all the possibilities before venturing into a new situation. While we prepared for him to be bored or disappointed, he skipped down the sidewalk, eager to let it rip.

And it soared! I don't want to brag, but my husband can fly a mean kite while wearing a baby in a front carrier. Jasper squealed and chased it. He talked to the kite and Matt steered it away from the soccer games nearby. Other kids wandered over to see the kite and clapped when it rose higher than the school's roof.

"That kite is so cool, Mister!" And then the coach called the child's attention back to the game. My husband: Mister-Cool-Kite-Guy.

These evenings have been hard. And loud. And demanding. But for a moment, I saw Matt as a little boy, running and flying and free to play in the spring's dusk light. Jasper danced around in his shadow, thrilled from head to toe. I smiled at the crummy little kite flying higher than our meager expectations, catching us all by surprise.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

tomb.

I used to see new moms pushing strollers on long walks and think, "Wow. She is brave and awake and rocking this." But then I became one of those stroller ladies and realized it's quite the opposite. We are stir crazy and lonely and desperate for sunshine. We are tired of people always touching us, so we put our spawn into strollers and push them down the street - a metaphor for the space and freedom we desire.

It is also true that traffic and earbuds make it nearly impossible to hear that one of your children isn't enjoying the stroller ride. Thus, you continue strolling for your own sake, pretending everyone is having a ball.

When they're all bundled up, I have a hard time telling these two apart. Little noses peer out from their fuzzy tombs. They are safe and warm, being transformed into someone new at every moment. They are my Easter hymns.

The den at my house has been my winter tomb. I am usually on the couch holding a baby or two, changing a diaper or two, pumping a liter or two. People come and go, visiting and helping, but I usually remain. I have only wandered out of this maternal hibernation of babies and errands for a few worship services now, but with each trip to Zion part of me is resurrected.

Maybe that sounds silly. I have been so grateful for this family leave and these weeks apart from work. I am glad for the bonding time with the girls, and also with Jasper. I am happy about my wide village and the time I've been able to spend with them. I wouldn't change a thing.

But I have missed that other vocation.

So as often as I am touched and feeding at home, I come alive when I touch and feed folks at church. Every handshake and hug invites me back into this ministry. Every piece of bread given today felt more miraculous than it usually does.

At brunch my family members asked about Easter at Zion:

Do you always have that many dogs in worship?
Why was that guy with the cane crying?
I heard someone say that Zion is a healing place after all his church has been through this year.
Do you ache at the thought of Jill and David returning to Ohio in June?
Who was that guy in costume who kept hugging you?
Was it okay for that one lady to touch Solveig's face so much? 
...and that other lady almost spilled hot coffee on her…

Easter at Zion has trumpets and lilies, but it also has grief and schizophrenia. It has life long members and dear ones who will soon transition away from us. It has egg hunts for kids who get forgotten by the Easter bunny. It has a beautiful, young Muslim woman watching your children in the nursery. It has a Jewish woman singing lovely solos. It has an organ with a sticky siphon we pray over.

It has all kinds of people God loves crawling out of winter's tomb and up to the altar for bread. It has all kinds of people who are stir crazy and lonely and desperate for sunshine.

And so it is the place for me, too.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

melting.

On Saturday Minnesota started melting. Matt and I wrestled the girls into front carriers and Jasper put on his rain boots. We set off on a short walk, racing and puddle jumping around our sunny neighborhood.

For ten blocks, we were very good at this three-kid-thing. We laughed a lot, our toes got wet, and those driving by thought we were downright adorable.

I spend so much of my time cooped up these days giving each girl half of what they need, leaning into family and friends brave/bored/kind enough to help, and declaring to Jasper that he has "two choices". (This conversation has the power to unleash or compose a meltdown, but I never know which until I'm standing in the midst of his emotional puddle.)

I am experiencing my own meltdown in these first weeks of twin-dom. I am watching the sacred cow of my expectations, hormones, and needs being melted down into the biggest puddle at all. I stare at it dripping and pooling, hopeful that it will be remolded and fired into something new and more useful instead. Even a gaudy keychain for my minivan keys would be better than nothing.

Two choices. Ugh. When you are three years old, two choices aren't enough. And I listen to his discouraged, whiny protests while secretly agreeing with him:

I can feed this one or that one.

I have time to brush my teeth or put on deodorant.

I can write thank you notes or a baby book entry.

We can heat up leftovers or bake a Stouffer's lasagna (again).

He's right. Life in the world of two choices totally sucks. So it's no wonder that language around choices are all I can hear in the preaching text for this Sunday: John 19:1-16a.

Jesus gives Pilate two choices: an earthly or heavenly kingdom.

Pilate gives the people two choices: he will free Jesus or Barabbas.

The people give Pilate two choices: kill Jesus or lose your job.

Hinge moments. The nitty gritty. Hard choices. Vested interest. A vast audience. The struggle for control. People convinced they're doing the right thing for the all the wrong reasons. Other people doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons. Jasper is right when he says, "No, I want three - no I want four choices!"

And then there is Jesus.

Maybe he has a choice. Maybe he has two or three or four or a billion choices we don't know about. But in John's gospel, there is only one way for God enfleshed to be. At noon the Passover lambs are sacrificed and so is he. Jesus is robed in purple with a crown of thorns and he moves toward the cross. He speaks the truth - the confounding, frustrating, unceasing, merciful truth in the midst of all these shitty human choices.

I am the Son of God. I have come to take the sin of the world. 
It is the only way.

Then everything begins melting.
Choices and sin and motivations and power and struggle and hope and death and life.

And we stare at it dripping and pooling, hopeful that it will be remolded and fired into something new and more useful instead. And this resurrection ain't no gaudy keychain.