Yesterday, I knocked on Linda’s door and a bird flew out of the magnolia wreath. There was a mossy little nest that was neatly secured behind the flowers and ribbons. “Are you going to move this before the bird flys into the house?” I asked. “It has twice already”, she said. This required trapping it in the bedroom, opening a window and removing a screen, so it would return to the greater outdoors. Today the wreath was moved to a chair and the nest is empty. “How very appropriate”, I thought. Their son has been living with them as he remodels a house and prepares for marriage this weekend. After the wedding, Linda’s nest will be empty as well. This is one of those moments that carries a flood of emotions that I expect will produce rivers of tears that I have seen at so many receptions when mothers “give” their sons to be married. When our children start lives on their own, or when they make a commitment to love and cherish another, it is an exciting new chapter in their story. This should be a victory for parents, but it also feels like the end of a book and the story for a mom. Sure, we never stop parenting, I have heard that many times. Ha! Evenso, the house changes character in the quiet. It starts a new story. It has taken me time to transform the solitary confinement feeling of my house into a sanctuary for serene meditation and prayer. The busy mom struggles to find time to meditate before she drifts to sleep each night. I now luxuriously bathe in prayer and thoughts that are no longer drowned out by, “Can you drive me to practice, have you seen my homework, will you wash my uniform, will you tuck me in bed?” I loved those days, and yet, I realize that God was not first in my life; my children were. He still continuously blessed me with His love. Now I understand the importance of putting Him first and thanking Him everyday for the privilege to be a parent- the greatest gift I have known. I am no longer as busy and have learned to enjoy a time of rest and refueling. My hubby is as busy as ever, but we both take time at the start of each day to count our blessings and pray for direction in helping others. The nest has changed but it is not really empty. Our love still fills it. Love that has room for all that wish to share our abode. This is the same for Linda who fills her house with family and friends on a regular basis. If you need a quiet place away from the busy, or if you need a little more connection; come on to my house. We can cook and laugh and pray together. It is a nest where you can rest.
Last week, I came unraveled. We joined the East Cooper Shag Club, and our first official dance was at the Snee Farm Country Club. I bought new shoes with smooth bottoms for easy spinning on the wooden floor. We took lessons from the professional, Kae Childs, to learn the basics. We practiced in the kitchen so that I would learn to quit leading. We studied the page on etiquette, and we were ready for a good time. Saturday night, we entered the lobby of the club house and introduced ourselves because we saw only one person we knew. After buying a 50/50 raffle ticket, hubby and I went to find the food and beverage. As I sashayed across the floor, there was a tiny tug so imperceptible that I did not realize the hem if my jacket cast a line of thread like it was fly fishing. When I suddenly turned to see what was tugging at my leg, I reeled in four feet of black thread that hubby might have been standing on. I had to untangle it from around my leg, around the bottom of my jacket, and pull it in from the doorway of the grill room. Imagine if this had happened on the dance floor. I could have caught a few shaggers and tied us all up to the pillar. Oddly, the hem stayed in place and my dignity was in tack while I tucked the ball of thread into a secure section. Being unraveled is an old term for what women today call a “hot mess”. That is how I look after dancing when the sweat is trickling down my face. Losing my temper or composure is a rarity, but my children have all seen it. And I have seen them come unglued. The underlying reason seems to be a loss of control in a situation. We are a family of planners and we do expect the entire world to love and embrace our plans. I have learned to be more flexible as I realize that sometimes God has different plans for us. I have also learned to consider prayerfully to plan with God’s purpose in mind. Kae writes about this is her book, “Life is a Dance, Whose going to Lead?” It takes practice to find a rhythm and a flow. Shag dancing has an emphasis on “find a spot and stay in your slot”. That is good advice to keep from crashing into others and coming unraveled. We will continue our lessons and go to many more dances because we won the raffle at the end of the evening. Get out your old Motown records and dance wherever you may be.
Yesterday, I was slowly walking backwards down the steps of Elise and Matt’s beautiful pool. I was hoping to keep my swimsuit dry and stand at the level with the water just past my knees. Some unseen force, ever so gently, nudged me one more step back for full immersion. Well, my face stayed dry and I let out a “whoop”. No one else was around, but all three girls appeared at the sliding door to see what happened. “Refreshing”, I said and confessed that the last step was a doozie. Some might say I lost my balance, others might suggest that I wanted subconsciously to take a plunge. I believe the wind and water chose to push me where I needed to be. Too many times I have opted for safe and balanced positions that did not help me to progress. There is a risk of losing control when we are off balance, but it can also propel us to work harder. The subconscious is often a mystery. If we resist doing something we really want to do, can our deeper thoughts override our conscious excuses? Last week when I was downtown I passed two bedraggled men sitting on the sidewalk against the wall. They were holding signs that I was too busy to read as I rushed to my appointment. Suddenly, I had the feeling that I passed my destination and I started back while digging out my cell phone to check the address. A few dollars came out with the phone, and I realized they were meant to help the men who were seeking funds. I know all the arguments against this. My mother’s voice said, “No”, and my father’s said, “Be generous”. I think my subconscious was overriding my rational defenses. Then, what about those unseen forces? The flukes in nature that draw us to a different direction or new place. What is that? Is it the Holy Spirit or a message from an angel that comes when we did not ask or expect one? There is evidence that we have protection, guidance, comfort and reprimand from sources that we cannot see. I surely don’t want to ignore a message from God when I pray daily for them. I wish every decision came with an unbridled impulse to jump in the pool at a run, splash everyone with cannonball confidence and ask them to join in. When seeking counsel, it is wise to listen to those who love us and have our best interest (not theirs) in mind. I am not one to say the moldy old cliche, “throw caution to the wind”. I will say that when ever you have the smallest notion to do something nice, “Take the plunge”.
Yesterday, I went to see my Chiropractor. He gives bear hugs that immediately takes away back pain. Maybe we should all be hugging that way. It turns out that many of my friends go to the same spinal specialist. We have similar stories of athletic activity and poor posture that leads to pinched nerves, inflammation and burning muscle pain. Advil and ice packs offer some relief, but nothing seems to help as much as the human touch of a trained doctor. I try to temper my activity and steer away from obvious evils such as vacuuming. Somehow, I keep disturbing the sleeping dragon in my right leg that Dr Jimmy calls my IT band. The physical therapist taught me to use a tennis ball against the wall to massage the knot in my rhomboid. That is a dance I will not be doing in public. In the mean time, the Carolina Beach Shag is my favorite dance and aerobic exercise. My hubby is very gentle with the right arm twirling so that I don’t wince while dancing. Smiling is an important part of moving to the music. The metaphor for a pinched nerve came this week from my friend Bev. She is our bible study leader, and I look forward to going to her home every week for discussion and prayer. She explained that a pinched nerve blocks the message it is trying to send to the muscle that is hurting. This is like the the message that God is trying to send to us when we are in spiritual or emotional pain. When we refuse to listen and respond with a “Yes” to His plan for us, we block the message like a pinched nerve. This results in chronic pain that finds no relief. Jesus became the great physician to give us a bear hug and unblock that nerve so that we could be back in a perfect relationship with the Father. It is hard to endure constant pain that keeps us from normal activity and good health. Pain management should start with prayer and seeking a plan of action that puts God first. If our actions reflect God’s selfless love, then we are on the right running course. I’m going to walk and not run, but I am still in the race. Now who can I get to vacuum?