Thankful Thursday #61

This week I’m thankful for…

  • sleeping in Saturday morning
  • walking by the river
  • time with my extended family
  • good books
  • the moment my husband walks in the front door after a business trip
  • wonderful things happening to those dearest to me
  • cold, windy nights perfect for cuddling up with a good book
  • the little one who is keeping me honest during Lent
  • my patient stepdad who gives me photography lessons and explains things like ISO and aperture over and over and over again because my peanut sized brain doesn’t get it the first 20 times.
  • singing silly songs with my husband while we get ready for work

The Sweetness of Lent

I’ve never honored Lent before.  Shoot, you’re going to take away one of my Christian cards, aren’t you?  Darn. I was already down to so few.

Every year I kick around the idea of Lent.  And every year that’s all I do-kick it around and leave it for dead.

This morning, at our classroom morning meeting, where we take care of Very Important Business like ‘Look at the New Tooth Hole in My Smile’ and ‘Check Out My New Fast Shoes’, one of my little ones raised his hand.  This kid is one of my favorite people on the planet.  He keeps me on my toes and always, always has something interesting to contribute.  I called on him, expecting a question about our day or a comment about the reading program we’ve just started.

But no, this kid is never what I expect.  That might be what I love most about him.

“I decided I’m giving up playing video games for forty days.” he smiled.

“Oh, for Lent?” I raised my eyebrows in surprise.  After all, this kid eats, breathes and speaks video games.

“Yep.” he nodded.  “What are you giving up for Lent, Mrs. McCauley?” he asked, his innocent eyes piercing right through my sooty, sinful soul.

“Well, I haven’t decided yet.  I’m thinking of giving up watching tv or eating candy.”  I admitted.

He shook his head at me, completely disappointed that I hadn’t decided yet.  “You should give up candy.”

“Why’s that?” I asked, intrigued by what led him to choose one over the other.

“Because candy is bad for you and God is good for you.” He shrugged like this very basic knowledge really shouldn’t have eluded me.

And I couldn’t argue with his rationale.  God is good for me.  Candy is bad for me.  Simple as that.  I thought about our conversation all day and into the evening.

And I thought about candy.

I loooooove candy.  It’s my favorite food group.  I dream in candy.  Especially Easter candy.  Just the thought of Mini Eggs sends me into a euphoric state.  Mmmmm, Mini Eggs.

Wait, where was I?

Oh, dear God, I remember.  Giving up candy for Lent.

I thought about the times I tend to eat candy.  I usually eat candy after a stressful day.  If I’m honest with myself, I also eat candy when I’m lonely.  How much better would God’s presence be in those times of stress and loneliness?  Much better.  And much better for me.  Good for me even.

And so tomorrow begins my Lent sans candy.  Not a harsh religious Lent as depicted in Chocolat, but a Lent wherein I give up candy in pursuit of the sweetness of God.

And when I have the opportunity to eat candy, I’ll instead think on this:

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

So, dear friends, however you celebrate the Lenten season, I hope you find yourself overcome with sweetness.

P.S. Do yourself a favor and give me a wide berth for the next forty or so days cause I have a feeling it isn’t going to be easy and it sure isn’t going to be pretty.  When I stop to think about it, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A Tree For My Friend

Dear Friend,

I bought you a tree today.

It’s a Zelkova Serrata, a tree known for strength and resistance to disease. As I ran my hand down the gray trunk, I thought of you and how hard it must have been to say goodbye, to let your father go. I thought of how quickly cancer consumed his strength.

There aren’t words to express how sorry I am for you. Every word feels meager in the pallid face of such staggering grief.

Thankfully when there aren’t words, there are trees.

The Zelkova Serrata can grow to be 100 feet tall with a crown that stretches wide to provide shady relief in the heat of Summer. In Spring it has pale yellowish green flowers.

The Zelkova Serrata is known by furniture makers for the beauty in its bold grain, but I think its real beauty comes in Fall when it covers the ground in a blush of red, yellow and purple leaves.

You’ve wanted this tree for some time and it’s fitting then that there was only one of these trees available in the whole city. One singular tree. Your tree. Tall and full of healthy buds ready to wake from dormancy.

I put the top down in my car and drove the tree to your house, my hair and the branches whipping in the wind. We were quite a sight, me and your tree sitting tall in my Mini Cooper. The man at the nursery tied a plastic red flag to one of the branches and as I drove to you I could see the red flag snapping in my rearview mirror like a lone prayer flag.

Sadness was etched in your face today, dear friend, and I felt silly as I stared at my shoes and explained that I’d brought you a tree.

The tree houses my wishes for you.

I wish that it provides cool shade and respite. I wish that months from now, when your grief has begun to ease, you’ll delight in the beauty of its colors. I wish that when you look out at the tree, you’ll remember the love between you and your dad, love that is strong, love that is impervious to disease and death. And each spring as new buds press out through the branches, I wish that you find renewed strength.

I bought you a tree today. And somehow in my cavernous lacking of the right words to comfort you, the silent branches of the tree said it all for me.

With love,
Your friend and a tree

Thankful Thursday #60

This week I’m thankful for…

  • the rare pleasure of an empty inbox
  • time with my little ones
  • the opportunity to help a friend in need
  • the sorrow and fragility of Taps at a funeral
  • mornings in bed with the hubby
  • the band Future of Forestry. I chewed on this line from their song Slow Your Breath Down all week. “I will sing you songs of innocence til the light of morning comes, til the rays of golden honey cover you in the sweetness of the Throne.” How beautiful is that?  You deserve a little beauty in your day so here’s Slow Your Breath Down.

An Open Letter to the Girl Scouts of America

Dear Girl Scouts of America,
Let me begin by saying I’m a big, BIG fan. I love your uniforms and your sashes covered in bright patches for doing things that make our world a better place. And I’m not at all jealous of those patches, which make the nine patches I earned as a wee Brownie look unimpressive. Nope, not at all jealous. Or bitter.

In fact I have fond memories of dressing up in my Brownie regalia and singing about gold and silver friends.  Although to tell you the truth, my friends don’t actually like it when I point out that they’re only a silver friend.  That would have been a helpful verse.

Make new friends,

but keep the old.

Be sure not to tell the silvers

they’re not gold.

Speaking of brownies, I love any organization that lets you start out being called a sweet treat. In fact it’s a trend I think you should continue up the ranks. First you’re a Brownie, then a Samoa, then a Thin Mint, etc., until you reach the pinnacle of your Girl Scoutness and become at long last a hallowed Tagalong, by far the most superior of all your cookies.

image courtesy of lightgreenstairs.com

It’s your cookies that have prompted me to write this letter.  I love the cookies.  I ate some for breakfast this morning after a well-balanced dinner, of course.  I have just one teensy, tiny problem with the cookies: the serving sizes on the boxes are wrong.  I’m not sure who’s in charge of the packaging, but they need to spend some time crunching numbers and crunching some cookies.  It is a well-known fact that a serving size of Thin Mints is one sleeve.  Equally well-known is the fact that a box of Tagalongs is a single serving in itself.  Please, darling Girl Scouts, speak to the powers that be and remedy this misinformation quickly.  I’m sure this extremely important act of public service will earn you a shiny new patch for your sash.

Sincerely,

Alicia, former Brownie