I've been with my family for a few days.
I have chased the setting sun across my mother's garden.
I've been on a porch swing with my sister on the left and my aunt on the right, talking about life.
I've been watching my father in the kitchen. Listening to his quiet words.
I've been holding hands with my grandparents and talking about their first home - a little trailer . . . the first home my mother ever lived in.
Grandparents are a precious thing. Only having two of them left in the world, I try to hug them, hold their hands, and kiss their faces as many times as I can during each visit.
How much life have they lived that I know nothing about?
I've been thinking about how a person puts down roots and then picks them up again. And how is it we know where to stop and stay a while?
I brought my grandmother's dining room chairs up to my parents' house with me. These chairs haven't been reupholstered in . . . I don't know . . . . a very long time. I got it in my head that I'd do the job myself. Not so difficult, right?
The whole time I pulled and tucked and stapled, I thought about Mimi - my paternal grandmother. I miss her all the time.
I thought about her making such a vast space for children in her life. I always felt like there was space for me in her home. And it was quiet space.
We read stories.
We went for walks.
So here I am pulling out old staples and laying aside old fabric to put on the new.
And the lump in my throat is growing bigger and bigger.
I wonder if she would be proud of me now? Would we sit and talk the way we used to?
And then I think, "What if I had a daughter?" - I don't have any children.
But what if I had a daughter? . . . I would want her to know about Mimi.
Memories of her music boxes and the mismatched china in the bottom of the dining room hutch . . . me getting into her makeup when I was old enough to know better and her smiling at me, knowing what I'd done, waiting for me to tell the truth.
Memories of her, brushing my hair in the evening and telling me that I am beautiful. The words sinking in to my little girl brain - she says I'm beautiful. Little girl Sarah believing the words - I know I'm beautiful.
Like the flowers of the field. Like the birds of the air. Taken care of.
I want to wrap myself up in these good moments. My mother's garden. Sally's porch swing and the little St. Francis statue in her yard. Their laughing voices. Forthright conversations with my Dad . . . being called back to myself by a sensible person.
Everybody knows that families are imperfect.
They falter and fail. Made up of humans, they can't help it.
My family is no exception.
It is the grace of the happy/sad feeling that keeps me coming home.
I see these human people, connected by choice and circumstance, doing their best and loving how they know to.
It's the best any of us can hope to do, and it's more than enough.
I see kids living in all kinds of situations. I can see this for what it is - a miracle.
Any family that manages to instill love in the heart and mind of a child is a miracle.
Our world is starving for miracles.
I know I've shared this song with a few of you before.
It's a topic that means almost everything to me - let's fill our children with good things.
Let's teach them about love.
Let's tell them how beautiful and strong they are.
Let's allow them to make their own mistakes and assure them that mistakes are normal.
Let's teach them how to pick up and dust off . . . and do better.
Let's fill them with the understanding that we have space for them . . . . space to take walks, space to sit on the porch swing, space to name treasures in the garden.
It isn't that we need to be perfect examples. We can't be that. It's impossible.
It's more important that we are present examples . . . available examples . . . and that we share our truth - that happy/sad grace that is real life. The grace that keeps us coming home long after we're grown up.
This house, with the lion on the front door and the sun sprinkled through the trees, was the place where all of the songs were born before I knew what I would be as a woman.
Grown ups - what we show them and tell them is important. Vital. Formative.
I think often about my peaceful parents - people who have gone out of their way to convince their children that it's better to listen and really hear than to spend this human life yelling at other people . . . and I think, "It could have all been different. And I'm glad it wasn't."
What will we give to our sons and daughters? And how will their roots be planted?
Peace & Goodness,