Yesterday my family all gathered together for the first time in two years. It was to be a weekend full of quiet reunion and just living together for a few rare days. Then came in one son and brother, with heaviness and pain showing in his face and his step; yes, it was a lingering health issue we all knew about- it was easy to forget his pain because it was so daily and familiar. Honestly, when I saw it was worse, I wished it away and got a little angry. This, of all days to be weighed down by sickness! when we were all in one place for once and just trying to have a party before reality set in again.
And then my Daddy came in and gathered us all together. “We need to pray,” he said, “because when one member hurts we all hurt.” With his Bible trembling in his rough hands, he read from psalm 91, wavering but always coming back with strength. And he prayed. The often absent brother prayed too, full of love and boldness and coming to the throne for his brother. And I wept… because here I found meaning in the pain that I had wished would go away. It wrapped us all closer together in the arms of God and in such a deep family love that I could feel it, and I remembered that He does all things well.
Here I have been sitting, wondering how to do this project describing my plans for a future career & how I will achieve it. If I write about my career as a professional illustrator, I would have to say that I want to work for a publisher and churn out pictures 24/7- say that I would be happy with a salary of no less than $40,000 a year, and I can envision myself as some such-and-such in the world of artists and illustrators. And in the truth of this moment, this one thing becomes clear. This career assignment would be easy if I were writing about what I really want to be… a mother.
Here I am training in a prestigious art program, spending my days with all that concerns art. Telling my teachers that I want to be an illustrator – waiting for praise from them like a dog for a bone, and trying to hide the burden building on my heart of not wanting this, knowing it will be expensive and it will take so many years, and so much effort. And all I want to be is a mother. To have my own home and make my own bread and paint the walls and love my kids… to know that after work, my man would come in the door and I would have the honor of serving him & loving him as long as we both live.
Until the man walks into my life, I will be an artist. I will hide my true calling and masquerade behind my brushes & canvas. And when he comes, my life will begin.
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The sky never gets quite black in the city. It glows purplish-orange from the city lights, and at first I thought it was beautiful. Now it makes me think of smog and strangers, and I realize that I can’t see the stars any more. Where I come from, the sky goes black and you see Orion and the Big Dipper and even a few planets if you know where to look for them… and the moon comes up over pine trees instead of the junky buildings downtown. I tell my roommates I’m going to find an aviation major and catch a ride home and they laugh with me… we all know it’s impossible, but dreaming is important when you can’t see the stars and you’ve forgotten what home smells like.
When the wait for Christmas break ended and the plane lifted off the ground, I cried. I’m headed home… and He said, haven’t I been faithful? I love seeing the patterns of blue and orange city lights in the darkness, so far below- they always show me how tiny my own world is. And still, he chooses to be involved in my life & make an intricate plan just for me. And then we broke through the clouds and the world was gone, and there were only clouds- up there, where only He can walk. It’s His domain, and He made every detail of it. After the crowds and stress of the semester, it is peaceful to be here, just praying and praising Him for the beauty of who He is.
I’m rational enough to realize that romance isn’t necessarily the stuff I’ve been reading and seeing in movies all my life. I think that if someone [he would have to be crazy and half-blind] ever proposed to me, I wouldn’t be thinking about how handsome he is. I would be thinking of my mother and how much she gave to be who she is, to make me what I am- her early mornings and meals and sacrifices for daddy. I would think of how much this question means… children, housework, dirty socks… kisses, Christmas mornings, stubble on his cheeks… and I would wonder, is he the one I need/am I the one he needs? Can we do the life thing together for the rest of the days in our allotted sum? Only after all these things had fled through my mind and I had answered yes- only after I had evaluated the million joys and frustrations and said yes to them would I say yes to the man in the moonlight.
Today I worked for a Thanksgiving meal & watched all the families making memories around the tables. The little people with big solemn eyes made me realize just what a big grown up I am…working at my own life and future, instead of wrapped up in my family. And since I’m a college kid far from home, I accepted one of several invitations for a real Thanksgiving dinner in an actual home. The table was so big it had to go in sideways, and shoulder to shoulder we all passed the dishes. I wondered at the sixteen conversations all going on at once, and thought of home where only one reigned around the small table. Then later during the movie, the lights went off and my heart woke up. I can only push down the loneliness for so long… sometimes, I would give anything to have a strong shoulder.
I have been pondering the benefits of life in a nunnery. Nothing would matter there except God. I wouldn’t have to worry about my hair or my face or my clothes or technology or personality. I could just be alone and very quiet and devoted, and learn the things that matter from God Himself… and then I would probably begin dreaming of all the stuff I left behind, because I am human and wouldn’t like asceticism forever- only as long as the last good meal filled me. Maybe there is a happy medium? just a simple, lone life with the things that really matter to me and God, and not the crushing influence of whatever other people want me to be or what they want me to spend my money on. How about a studio of my own with a cat and an espresso machine, and lots of books and movies and selfishness galore? ugh! I am so sick of my own humanity!
Tonight I was listening to some music on grooveshark, and I finally just got tired of the strangeness of it. I wanted someone that I knew singing to me, not a stranger. So I put on Roy Rogers, and found some funny old radio shows with Gabby and Dale too. Hearing their voices was just like going home again for a while… I put down my science book and just laid down my head to hear them. It reminded me of spending Saturday evenings the way they should be spent- with popcorn and chocolate and a good old western. Then it ended, and I sat up in a daze, feeling like I had gone home for a few minutes… and wanted to stay. But here I am at college, toughing it out with art and people and work, and so the dreams of Christmas break begin.
Today in class I was trying to think about philosophy and theology and design and all the other things I am studying, when home just crept into my thoughts and wouldn’t get out. Before I knew it I was absolutely longing for my old purple blanket with the flowers, and a pillow that has that slept in scent, and a story on my big old radio. Then I started remembering about things that fill the cozy corners in my heart- an old musty book of horse stories and my sandy cat and a window with a pine view and country house where nothing matches but all is clean and organized. I think that in spite of all my artistic worlds of contemporary modernity, slick stainless steel and abstract art and fab furniture, I will always love the country best. And when I am so tired that it hurts, I only want to be home in the winter when the snow is drifting and the wind is blowing, but I am warm inside and sleeping long, long into the morning.