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Friday, February 8, 2019

Time and Tide

One morning a few years ago I got up at 6:30 and as it happened, I looked out the window and saw a beautiful, perfect morning sky. There was a streak of brilliant pink in the east, and the air was filled with a hazy mist just light enough to cover the world with a sheer silver veil, making it seem more mysterious and more beautiful. The bare trees for a moment seemed Narnian, quivering in the secret light and waiting for the word that would wake them. I thought to myself, "I have got to take a picture of that."

But I had something else more urgent to attend to first. I took care of that, and then I spent a few minutes looking for the camera. I didn't find it right away so I went back to the window to look at the gladsome sky, but the dappled dawn had continued its birth without me. The scene had changed. It was still lovely and a thing of beauty to gladden the heart, but the moment I'd wanted to hold in my hands forever was gone.

 Being a mother is like that, too. So many times in my mothering walk I have wanted to grab time with both hands and make it stop forever at this or that perfect moment, but time kept rushing on, dragging me breathless along with it to other perfect moments (and sometimes, yes, for horrific, heart-wrenching, soul sickening moments. But we never ask time to stand still for those).

 I have wanted to clutch my children to me and shout "Stop growing right now! This is perfect, this is where I want us to be forever." But if I'd had my way, I'd have missed other equally perfect, beautiful, joyous moments, even other children, moments which were also the ethereal gift of time, a gift of growth, a gift that only comes when we appreciate the moments that make up the individual beads on the strand of pearls that is mothering.

 When you have those small moments of perfection in tiny, insignificant things, look at it with all your attention and imprint it on your heart and mind. But move on without regrets. Every stage has its rewards.

 Oh, weary young mothers. I know you are tired and everybody tells you to appreciate each moment and you don't always have time for that. The kids are puking, the toilet is overflowing, the schoolaged children are sobbing over math and insisting they are stupid and will never learn and they hate you.  As hard as it is, know that the choices you make today are building your tomorrows. 

 Or maybe your life is so much harder than that that you wish you could be dealing with vomit and sewage instead of adultery, death, destruction, abuse, or more. Not everything that I have experienced in my mothering, parenting or even grandparenting years has been a joy. Some of it has been searingly painful, and changed lives forever. Some of those things have been growing experiences from which I have grown and learned and become grateful. But some things are just searingly painful. But there is this- time stops neither for the great joys or for the great sorrows.

 I am old enough, and heart-scarred enough now that I am deeply grateful that time here does move on. Wherever you are in your journey, the joys, the hard drudgery, the searingly painful- you are loved with an ever lasting love, as Elisabeth Eliot used to remind us in her radio program. The joys are worth cherishing (write down what you can, you won't remember what you think you will).  It is worth all the hard work and self-mastery you can scrape together to make the right choices for your day today, even if you can only think of right now, and then in five minutes think about the right thing for that five minutes, one step at a time.  You are building your future self, and your children's, by the choices you make today.

 And the sufferings? They are not easily born. But that everlasting love will outlast them, no matter how long and how hard they are to endure on this side of Heaven. 

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