The watering came in unexpected ways. Sometimes the Lord’s refreshing comes through a change of scenery — the resting place of a vacation, a Sabbath day of ceasing our worry and work, a retreat at Laity Lodge. Sometimes it comes through a change of countenance — we are literally righted from the inside out, brought to clarity, given new perspective and strength. Sometimes we’re made compassionate again, given a new imagination and concern for people’s needs, or a renewed sense of meaning and purpose.
For me, the empty pages tell the story of my life becoming occupied with things I never suspected would lead me from the corner booth at the coffee shop into the consuming risk and mess and joy and inertia of marrying a woman who beckons me out of isolation, of raising four beautiful and uniquely complex children, of moving from one city to another, of living in a community, and of following a vocation which, ironically, involves more writing than ever.
Most days of the year, I wear worn blue jeans, a soft grey T-shirt, and old tennis shoes — a sharp contrast to my derby attire. I like grey: it suits my personality and my desire to keep things safe and simple. But looking back on my collective experiences, I recognize there is a hot-pink narrative thread that runs throughout my story, stringing together all of the things that thrill me most in this world. It connects me to an adventure that is more exciting than one I have envisioned for myself.
In this world where news of torture and death runs like a ticker through my day, I’m realizing in a new way that I must learn to pray. I must learn to sit in silence with a God who is all-powerful and all-loving in the mystery of horrendous suffering. I must learn to lift up my sisters and brothers without ceasing. I must learn to pray ordinary prayers for them in my small way and believe that God makes those prayers matter.
There is a tension here that my husband and I find important as parents. As our life on a farm begins to mirror the lives of some of our ancestors who had closer connections to death, food, seasons, and the rhythm of days, our family has been given many opportunities to experience both a spiritual and a literal darkness that cannot be eliminated. We try not to shield our children from every hurt and pain. But we also encourage them in their imaginations, giving them a framework for hope and allowing them to “escape into” the longing for the not-yet that literature can bring.