I sit here in a quiet household. Some shower, some have gone to attend business, and others slumber still. I so enjoy these few moments of pin-dropping stillness wherein I read and meditate and pray. Today I read:
Instead of that He sometimes comes to us in a big disappointment.
~~ Amy Carmichael ~~
I lower my lashes and admit that I attach such significance to my daily joy; I seek to find the moments of joy knowing God will be there . . . and yet on some days I find him, as Miss Carmichael notes so aptly, in a BIG disappointment. Take this past weekend, for example – I established that Sunday would be an ultimate day of REST. I set apart my schedule to include the lazy reading and finishing of Some Lovely Islands, a slim and delightful volume of travel days that I wanted so to devour and savor without the nagging thought of chores. Next to that I placed a book newly arrived from a dealer, entitled French Island Elegance.
(Doesn't this cover just speak volumes
of the delightful vacation resting between those covers?)
So I set about a flurry of Saturday chores and baking (the most scrumptious sourdough-rye-seeded bread to accompany a big pot of chili – where was my camera?) and all manner of gardening tasks, like watering my parched lands in this oh-so-heat-filled month of August. (Truly August ranks as my least favorite gardening month.) I ended the day with tired body but smiling face . . . tomorrow I rest.
Sunday dawned with roosters crowing and after rising from my sleepy hollow I took a bowlful of goodies out for the feathered folk to share. I lingered and laughed as they strutted and scuttled around to inspect the mélange of tea leaves, avocado fragments, wilted tomatoes and cucumbers, and a smattering of tired berries laced with feathered greens of all sorts. A feast to linger over on this restful Sunday.
I wandered the gardens a bit, feeling the dampness left behind by the early morning sprinklers, and walked in peace. Today there would be no hurried showers or bustling off to church; with the flu spreading and school newly begun, we have chosen to stay behind our garden walls until the truth of the threat bears out. Worship can and will happen here as vibrantly as in our pew-filled congregation. I thank the Lord for the freedom we cling to that allows us to worship as we choose.
I returned to my cozy kitchen, brewed a pot of tea, and settled down to read. A little excitement bubbled up when Gary and Rachel came to report that while slipping out to run an errand they witnessed an apartment fire downtown. I immediately inquired of some friends’ safety, as they live quite near the fire. No danger for them, so I set about praying for those roused from bed by a chilling cry of “Fire!”
All too soon my quiet morning evaporated when Gary hobbled in with a severely damaged ankle from a mishap at the treehouse – a building in progress. A bleeding, bruising, swelling appendage caused me to swoon (literally, I must confess) as I ran for supplies. I bathed and treated the wound and found it to look awful, but it appeared unbroken and remarkably free of much pain for Gary. He hobbled around demonstrating that he felt pretty good. I swooned again. It pains me to bind up the wounds of my children, but really frightens me to see my husband – The Rock – bleeding. I made him comfortable and returned to my tea and book . . . and then put the book down. Some dvd entertainment filled the balance of the afternoon, as I cooked and did some laundry and tidied a bit here and there.
The cool Fall-like weather we eagerly anticipated did not materialize as predicted by meteorologists. The temps soared and we began to hear fire trucks and sirens of all manner screaming down the nearby highway. Hmmmmmm . . . All too soon I smelled smoke, saw ash floating in the air, and ran outside to see the blue sky filling with ambered waves of smoke. I ran to the internet and searched to find info . . . a tidbit would suffice to calm my concerns. All up-to-the-minute local sources supplied LOTS of fire information (apparently this area had hosted a few more fires after the early morning blaze downtown), but nothing about the latest smoke-filled event. The gusty winds of the day continued to blow, earlier having destroyed our metal/canvass cabana at the poolside. Without any information, I merely prayed a blanket prayer for those that may be affected, including my own family.
I tried to return to reading, but found myself merely gazing out the window at the fleeting butterflies and hummingbirds that dance so merrily this time of year. From blossom to fountain and back again goes the merry dance. (Where is that camera when you need it most?) A woodpecker crashes the party now and again. A goldfinch drops in unexpectedly, has a hurried bath, and then flits away to play with her flock of friends all a-twitter in the majestic oaks. I began to smell thicker smoke odors and see the wafts of grey pass by my window. Should we get ready for a quick exit? Could Gary drive with that ankle? And then my mind fell to the very lowest of points and I began to think of the silly things, like bemoaning the fact that our dinner invite to a friend’s place may be cancelled. I know myself all too well . . . when fear begins to grip its tentacles around my mind I retreat to the least painful thoughts like the loss of a good meal in a time of emergency.
I grabbed the computer and looked again. No update. I glanced outside and noticed a lessening of the smoke. Wishful thinking? I asked Gary to confirm. Yes, but he noted that a wind shift may be the cause. He then informed me he felt good enough to dress for our dinner date. I couldn’t think of leaving the kids with an unknown fire raging somewhere. I balked. He changed clothes. I scanned the horizon and waited. I applied mascara and lip gloss with one eye on the lace panels, and detected bluer skies for certain. I returned to the computer and finally found an update. The fire raged through a neighboring town (25 miles away) and continued to destroy homes and businesses in its path. (Today I read that 60 structures have been lost, many of them homes. At this moment it is merely 50% contained. I continue to pray . . .)
We did enjoy dinner with our friends, the children remained safe and sound at Wisteria Cottage, and Gary’s ankle allowed him significant mobility without any crutches. A bit of hobbling and his comfy blue clog slippers allowed him to slip in and out of restaurant without notice as a wounded man. Amazing! Today he awoke with much less swelling, fully-scabbed wounds, minimal bruising, and a looooooong list of To Do’s for the day. He remarked how refreshed he felt from a good long night’s sleep. (Elizabeth set her alarm to release the chicken folk at 6 am – she went back to bed and slept late.)
I, on the other hand, dragged myself out of bed with a little less-than-normal vigor, the victim of my own worrisome ways. I brewed my tea, fixed my breakfast, and grabbed my stack of morning reads like every ordinary day. And then it hit me . . . this day feels ordinary. Praise God! After the hub-bub of yesterday’s Un-restful day, I happily face this day in the ordinary way. We do not reside in a shelter awaiting news of the charring or not of our home and all worldly goods. I do not need to pass through the automatic doors of a hospital to visit my husband, as he has but a mere wobble in his walk and no more. Despite the many blips on the radar screen of yesterday, life remains typical and around here that always feels GOOD!
I shall finish my tea, gently remind Rachel to be mindful of her time as piano lessons will be at noon, and carry on with the vacuuming, laundering, cooking, and all other activity in the keeping of my home on an ordinary Monday. I will pause often to pray for those who have a new routine today, one they did not hope for, and I will remember Amy Carmichael’s words and rejoice that the disappointments of yesterday truly did yield joy when I let go of the mental gymnastics of a worrier.
And maybe, just maybe, I may finish off that book of island touring in England and hop on over to The Caribbean and her neighbors for a glance at that new book of beauty. For now, I gratefully swallow my last sip of tea and set off to find what today holds. I know joy can be found, I may just need to blow away some smoke to see it.