Jan 012013
 

 

This picture was taken at the kids’ holiday concert.

I was mesmerized throughout the whole show – I always am when I watch teachers make dozens of kids sit, pay attention, follow complicated instructions and incidentally, create something beautiful. Why do we not give teachers awards? Those things they create…the skits, the dances, the songs? Teachers are magicians. They spend their lives and days creating the beautiful moment of glory for us at the end. The show. And in the end, the end isn’t what matters at all. We parents sit and we clap – knowing that the performance isn’t even the good stuff.  The good stuff is the hours of practice and focus and togetherness and patience and teamwork and discipline and joy that went into the preparation.  The good stuff is the time in the classroom that changed our children from the folks we dropped off in the fall to the just- a-little-bit- better folks we see standing in front of us at The Show.

We should recast The Oscars this year. The actors should sit out for the night and the 2013 Oscars should be an evening to celebrate teachers. We should sit at home at our Oscar parties and watch classroom highlights. We should witness some of the sweat and time and love that teachers all over the country pour into each precious little one while no one is watching. We should witness the moment where a child learns to read for the first time – next to the teacher who has pointed to the same letters for days, weeks, months – alone with that one child and her relentless hope for him. We should look at that huge golden screen on stage and watch the Shy Child join into the jump rope game for the first time. We should sit on the edge of our seats while we watch her gather all of her courage and pour every drop into that one sentence she’s been practicing with her teacher before recess every afternoon.

“Can I play, too?”

Then the excruciating pause. The whole country holds its breath.

“Sure,” the other girls say. “Jump in.”

They’ve been coached too, of course. By this teacher. By this conductor of hope.

Shy child looks over at her teacher with bright, terrified eyes. Hope is so terrifying. Teacher flashes her a thumbs up and a teary smile. “JUMP IN!” she calls silently with her eyes. Shy Child jumps in. Permanently.

Oscar worthy.

Who’s the boss of the Oscars? I’m going to write to her.

Back to the holiday concert. I sat and watched the children and the parents watching their children with their cameras and pride and babies all bundled around them and tried to contain my love for them inside my body. Containment is impossible for me at moments like these. At moments like these, my love is too big and so it sneaks out, through runaway tears and sighs and stifled cries and way too loud cheers and whoops and hollers which forever embarrass my son and husband. Children making music together. Who can stand it? It’s too much to be handled gracefully. Love and hope and joy escape. Can’t be contained inside bodies. Shouldn’t be.

In between songs, I noticed a mama in front of me on the bleachers struggling with her toddler. Little One was squirming and yelling and I wondered if she was having the same joy-containment problem that I was. I smiled at her and we played peekaboo for a while. Stressed Mama glanced back at me gratefully. Then I looked over and the mother beside me rolled her eyes my way. She was mad. I could feel her panic. Oh my God this baby is going to ruin my baby’s moment. Can’t I just have one moment of peace?? Just one perfect morning? It’s always something. Damnit, it’s always something. I understood Mad Mama. I feel that way daily. Because: No, you can’t. You cannot have perfect peace. No one can. We’d be less exhausted and angry if we’d accept it. But we can’t. Nope. Not me anyway.

I saw Stressed Mama notice Mad Mama’s annoyance. I ignored Craig’s: “Oh God, Glennon, just stay out of it this once” look, which he has mastered despite its absolute ineffectiveness. I looked into Mad Mama’s rolly eyes, gestured toward Little One and said, “Do you remember those days? I sure do.” Then I leaned into Stressed Mama’s ear and said, “Don’t worry about your beautiful baby. She’s fine. Look, they’re about to start singing again. The music is always louder than the crying.”

Then I settled back into the bleachers. And I tasted that last sentence in my mouth.

The music is always louder than the crying.

I turned it over and let it run on repeat through my head and heart and through my veins again and again. It rang true. It was a gift to me, that sentence. My gifts usually come from above in the form of beautiful sentences.

The music started and I watched Little One. She was still squirming. Still babbling away. But I couldn’t hear it. Not really. The singing was too loud, too irresistible. It enveloped me. It does, if we let it.

For me, there has been a whole lot of crying this year.

A few months ago, God lifted the curtain and it became clear that what I thought was my real life was actually a carefully rehearsed show. There were all kinds of artificial forces, namely fear and shame, pulling the strings back stage. They were making my precious cast dance and move and say things that weren’t real. That weren’t true to who they were. It wasn’t real, my life. That was a big fat shock. I looked behind me –at the messy, messy backstage and back towards the startled audience and said: “WHAT? My world is BUT A STAGE? I didn’t know.”

Everything disappeared. Everything.  It all just fell away. And for many, many weeks, each morning and night, it was me and God. Just us. People came. People helped, in the way people can help. But in the quiet it was just God and me. God must love me very much to want me alone so badly. We did good work in the quiet. God told me I had to wait. God promised me that all evidence to the contrary, I was safe. I heard that over and over again. You are safe. You have to wait. Time takes time. There is nothing harder than letting time take time without trying to fix a damn thing. There is nothing harder than making no decision. But that is what was required of me at the time. And I had excellent company with which to wait.

God waited with me. I trusted God and God trusted me. I did not lose my mind. I did not lose my faith. I just moved my faith. I took it back from the folks around me and from my ever changing  feelings and my fickle and broken heart and my bat shit crazy mind and Craig and my kids and my religion and everyone’s advice. I took my faith back from all those things and I gave it to time and quiet and breath and rest and water and God and fierce, jagged, solid love. Not the kind of love that hugs and smiles and giggles and bubbles and draws hearts. The kind of love that waits for things to become clearer.

In the end, this year was not about the end. It was not about the big performance, the reveal, the Christmas show, the happily ever after.  It was about the hours I spent with God. It was about the trust we built in each other. The time we passed together – the practice and focus and togetherness and teamwork and discipline and agony and relief. It was about how God dropped me off in 2012 and then visited my just-a-little-bit-better self this morning. This first morning of 2013.

In the end, this year was not about Craig and me at all. It was not about saving my family. This year was about learning that all evidence to the contrary, I am safe. This year was about proving that nothing, but nothing can separate me from the love of God.  Even if we die, we don’t die. If our dreams die or our bodies die or our beloved dies – We do not Die. I know this.

“In three words I can sum up all I know about life. It goes on.”  - Robert Frost

Life has gone on. And in the end, I have learned this: My peace is not dependent upon anyone else. Not anymore. My peace is God, and God is as close as my decision to sneak away for a moment and find quiet and find my breath and remember that the music is always louder than the crying.

 

It’s gonna be a fierce 2013.

 

 

 

Love you so.

G

 

 

Dec 162012
 

Hi Friends.

In an hour, the kids and I are heading to the airport. Back to Virginia to be with my people.  I just booked the flights yesterday. I couldn’t spend another day without my Sister and my (her) baby. Can you blame me?

Bubba and Tisha will pick us up at the airport. I just want my mom and my dad. Don’t you? I want my friends. And more than I want my friends, I want their kids. I need to hold and smell and pray for each one of them. I need to check in to make sure the things I love are real.

I don’t have anything helpful to say. I’m sorry. I wish I did. I will tell you that I am so, so grateful for this place. I needed it the last two days. I needed you. So many Is. Grief and anger and hopelessness are personal and selfish, I guess. Until they’re not. Then they usually turn into good works and connection. Eventually. St. Anne Lamott always reminds us that it’s the eventually part that blows. Time takes time. We have to just let it be unbearable and awful for as long as it takes.

Here’s what we decided after Aurora. Still true, I think:

  When the world feels too loud, we must be quiet. When the world feels too violent, we must be peaceful. When the world seems evil, we must be good.

A Monkee added this: the harder life is the softer I must become. I think that for now, this is true. Softness is not weakness. It’s where true strength is born. Water is soft, and rocks are hard. Over time- the water wins. Even the rock succumbs to water, eventually. That freaking word again. Eventually. Time takes time. I believe that God’s love and parents’ love are like water. Stay soft.

I can tell I’m getting softer. I’m so grateful to God for that. There were comments made on our FB page that a year ago would have sent me into a rage and a deep depression. Not anymore. Folks need to say what they need to say. The expression of grief and anger are so unique to each of us. I’m just glad we can hold a safe space for people to express their pain. It’s okay. We can handle it.  I hear the humanity and desperation and ultimately, the LOVE, behind the comments of EVERYONE this time around. EVERYONE, from both sides of the every “issue.” I hear my friends who are furious at me for believing in God. I understand. I hear my friends who are defending God like their very lives depend on it. I understand. I hear my friends who are screaming for gun control and my friends who are screaming against it. I think, at the end of the day, that both groups think their way is the way to protect their children. I understand.

As for me, I’m at ground zero. For the first time in my life, I know that I don’t know ANYTHING. Maybe one day I will, but today I don’t. I keep thinking of that line from An American President. “These are serious times and they call for serious people.” I think if never before, now is the time to admit that the problems we have are very,very complicated and multi-layered and desperate. And to solve them, it’s going to take all of us. Right now, we cannot scream at each other for peace. I can’t anyway. If we’ve done what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’re always gotten. We’ve got to try something else. I don’t know what yet.  I just want to admit I don’t know and ask for help from everyone. We need everybody’s very best, very highest self to step forward.

And I just know I want my mom and dad and Bobby and Sister and Brother in law and I want to hold my friends’ babies. That will have to be okay for now. I’m going home. To love and be loved.

Adrianne sent me this yesterday:

“The teachers who hid in the bathroom with students during yesterday’s massacre read books to the kids to keep them quiet and calm. They read books to the little ones, G. In the midst of so much darkness and evil, books…written words…were the light. I know books saved you. They saved some precious babies yesterday, too. Thank God for all the writers of the world who put pen to paper and create life rafts for the rest of us.”

We are both teachers and writers and readers, Adrianne and I. And so this part. Those teachers. Protecting the hearts and bodies of their babies with books. Well. Thank you. That’s all. Thank you to all the teachers. All the helpers.

I’ve got no advice nor solutions for the world. I just know that I still love this broken place and the broken folks in it. The brutality is deeper and more horrific than I’ve ever understood before. But the beauty is deeper and more blindingly present than I understood before either.

We are living in a very dark world but the candle reminds us that darkness cannot extinguish the tiniest flame. Darkness has no breath.

Each night –  for the next twenty six nights – I’ll be holding my ten minute vigils. I start at 8:30 EST and end at 8:40.  I don’t do much. I just light a candle and take it outside. I go outside to remember that we all live under the same sky. I sit with my candle for ten minutes. I try to pray but usually I just stare at the flame and try to empty my mind. Each vigil  I’ll dedicate to one of the beloved who died this week. I’m starting tonight with the principal, Dawn Hochsprung. She was a mama of five. She called her kindergartens “kinders.” I know that there is a special place in heaven for folks who call kindergarteners kinders.

 

We are members of two worlds down here. One is the world of politics and marches and petitions and votes and opinions and arguments and that world is very, very important. I will re-enter it someday soon, I’m sure. But there’s another world, too. That world is the kingdom of God. And I just know, the very very wise fool in me knows that in the Kingdom of God, one mama with a two dollar candle on her back porch is equally important.

 

During the Vietnam war there was a man who stood outside the White House every night holding a single candle. After several weeks, the news discovered him and a reporter came and said something like, “Sir. Do you really think that standing here with this candle is going to change the world’s mind?” And the man looked at him and said, “I don’t stand here with my candle to change the world. I stand here to keep the world from changing me.”

I love you. I am so grateful for you. I deeply, deeply cherish you and your families. I can’t do much. But I’ll show up here. This year- 2013. I’ll keep showing up. I will keep my candle lit. I will stay soft. Soft like a river.

Pray for Peace, People Everywhere.

Glennon

Dec 122012
 

 

“I must learn to love the fool in me–the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.”
Theodore Isaac Rubin (born 1923);
psychiatrist, author

 

Friends….Feed Your Fool!  Feed her with good music, art, food, friends, rest whatever it takes! Grow her up, don’t let her die!! Invite her forward and cherish her!!  She’s precious and she’s the world changer.

 

And when folks suggest that you act/behave/think more wisely don’t forget. . .

 

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

 

That is all.

Love,  A Professional Weak Fool

 

 

 

PS. That picture is the cover of Alice Walker’s book of poems, and the artist is Shiloh McCloud. Aren’t the title and illustration beautiful?? Here’s a link to the book!