Taking a Deep Breath.

So we came home from nearly a week in Chicago (at CHA and “spraguefest” - our yearly informal get-together) on Tuesday, and suddenly it’s Sunday and I feel like I just blinked. Or maybe I’ve been walking in that post-event haze I always get after traveling for several days. It seems to be proportional to the length of the event, so since we were gone 6 days, 3 days for recovery seems about right. :)

Jared’s mom left on Wednesday, as did my summertime babysitter. They both saved me this summer as we were furiously getting ready for CHA and Spraguefest, and as I was working on new classes. Now that we’re home I can stop for a day, and take my deep  breath and try to get my bearings.

The first thing I notice when I stop and focus: my children start school in two weeks. TWO. I get a little squeeze in my heart whenever I think of it. This is our second kindergartener in as many years, and we officially enter the “school-age” years and I’m freaking out. Mostly because Time, which has been silent and mostly invisible for so much of my life, is starting to make himself known in more and more dramatic ways lately.

Not only a 5-and-6 year old, who will both go to school this year, but other things. I’ve noticed a few grey hairs. The beginning of.. are those crows’ feet? The hot young Hollywood things who were my teenage idols (ahem, diCaprio..) are now playing parents in movies and TV. My 35th birthday is approaching, and FAST, and it feels like I’m on a ship crossing an ocean, or a train traveling in only one direction, and there’s no going back. Only forward. Always forward.

I have no idea why this idea has hit me with such poignancy in the past couple of months - maybe it’s the crow’s feet I saw on Leo in Inception, or the fact that Molly Ringwald plays a mom of teenagers on TV now, and maybe it’s just really sinking in for the first time ever, but time - Time - has become both incredibly precious and incredibly fast-moving lately.

2010 has been a year of life changes so far. Good ones, mostly. But coming so fast, so close together, that I’m a little staggered by it sometimes. But also so, SO grateful. God is merciful, and a loving, listening Heavenly Father with a personal interest in our lives. I’ve learned this in many ways this year, as I’ve been taught to trust, and keep walking.

A favorite line from The Lord of the Rings comes to mind:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept”

But what an adventure, right? What an adventure. How could I ever have imagined that I would have the chance to meet thousands of scrapbookers from all over the world? That I would get to do what I love for a living? That more than 50 people would come to hang out with us for the weekend, having met at a web site I put together, and built lifelong friendships? I wouldn’t have dared to dream it. But there it is, reality.

A sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning on this same theme:

I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world’s dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes.  Then thou didst come—to be,
Beloved, what they seemed.  Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendours, (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts)
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame

The last three lines. Ah. The truth comes in poetry and scripture alike, doesn’t it? From everywhere. This particular truth makes my life-changes a lot easier to think about. The idea that not only is there a plan for my life, but it’s a way better plan than I can possibly make or achieve on my own. So faith, then, and not freaking out, is the answer.

One more quote, from C.S. Lewis:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

God’s gift to of life and the freedom to choose what to do with it is freely given, but he asks for our will, so that He can make of us what He can see is already there. God’s gifts - and the palace He is building of us - put our best dreams to shame.

Will this make it easier on those days (and almost every night) when the work feels like it never ends, and the pressures seem to outweigh good news? It makes it easier to believe that my daily life is really part of something purposeful, that’s for sure. And in the end, what an adventure.

Note to self: Read this the next time you’re sobbing on the floor in your underwear.