It was two Saturday's past, warm, sunny and inviting outside. It also happened to be the first day the children and I had been able to enjoy the presence of our most beloved husband/father for more than a few hours as his work had called him away for a few days.
For nearly three days we had spread the memory of his words, his sounds, his smell and his love out; hoarding the memories and coveting the time when he would return and conserving them with fervor. But our tanks were low, we were running on fumes-and we needed him near us again.
That Saturday, before He had even woke up and been given proper time to rest himself, we famished three (and a half) came and drank him in as camels in a desert, overwhelming him with US. We hadn't allowed him time to nourish himself and so the day began grimly.
The children, wanting to be near and close to the father they love so tremendously with their entire beings were at every corner underfoot. And children underfoot of an unrested soul is never a good thing.
I was working in the kitchen, alone (and enjoying the peace, not having had it for three days) and listening to the sounds on the other side of the door~ the sound of the Papa, breaking down emptied cardboard boxes, the giggles and delight of the children as they could hardly contain just being NEAR him.
I heard impatience, and felt the stress continuing to rise as Matt couldn't come up for air.
And I prayed aloud, my hands gathering the ingredients to begin preparing our meal, my eyes glancing out the window at Matt,
"Lord, open His eyes to the love his children have for him. Help him to realize that they need to be near, and that the most precious thing for them AND him is for them to be together. Open his eyes to the fact that he ought to be HAPPY that they are underfoot, and help him to realize that if he grows impatient and stern- that one day, they won't WANT to be there. Give him patience, Lord, and show Him how important this is..."
It wasn't long after my lips became silent that the door slammed and an excited wispy haired girl came inside, beaming despite the strain obvious to me in Matt's voice.
"Mama. Whatcha doin'?" my girl asked.
"Working on supper..." my simple reply.
"Can I help you with something?" she asked, and I knew in her heart she was pleading.
"No, Corynn. Thanks for offering but there isn't much to do. I just have to make the grilled cheese and cut the cantalope and... Well, I can do it myself. It would just be easier if you ran outside and played."
"But Mama- I can get the stool, I can help you cut the cantalope. I'll be careful with the knife!" the pleading I knew was inside her was, as suspected, starting to emerge.
"Corynn." I said in my serious voice. The voice I give when she argues with the answer I give her... "You heard what I said. Go outside and play." Then, I added a strained "please." as if feigned politeness would make it all better.
She turned on her heels and headed outdoors and I heard her mutter, " All I wanted to do was help you, Mama."
Those words, deep and steeped in confusion, hit me hard in the gut. Then, I remembered the prayer I had just prayed on behalf of Matt.
And another crushing blow forced me to my knees.
I pray and I long for others to change~ but the log has not been pried from my own, blinded eyes. Full of pride, I point out what our children need (to Matt, to God, to blogdom), and how much, and when~ and yet, I don't act on behalf of that knowledge. I see the joy potential, but don't give of myself to live it out.
I stood, humbled and ashamed for many moments, not believing what had just happened and the irony of the prayer I had just spoken on another's behalf. Who WAS I?
I said a little prayer of repentence, then went outside to find Corynn. I told her that I was wrong to push her out the door, and that I would be pleased to have her come help me in the kitchen.
The rest of the evening, she slathered bread with butter as I sliced cheese and ham for grilled cheese. I took the seeds from a cantelope and wedged it, she cut the wedges into little pieces (with a sharp knife!) She pushed the buttons on the microwave and helped stir as our soup warmed. She set the table and I lit the candles. She called the 'men' in for supper as I filled the glasses.
Her little body, perched atop a stool but doing grown up things, right alongside me. Fingers working, getting soiled alongside one another, hands working to a greater, common good. That night I sought joy by giving of myself, and it was realized. But, I found out too, that giving of myself to create that joy-memory, wasn't as inconvenient as I thought. It wasn't that great of a sacrifice.
In fact, it was pleasure. It was fun. It was a glimpse into the future, when hands much bigger and more capable can work alongside me in the many projects and endeavors I have. It was the cultivating of ground so that when those hands ARE bigger, they will still seek me out to help and share, and love and give.
Lord, help me to realize my shortcomings, and to see clearly my need for change. Open MY eyes to the joy of these children and help me to show them that I want them near, that they are important and dear. Help me to cultivate the ground in this early years so that it might be fertile and grow beautiful gardens later.