Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Heaving the Mountain, or Shoveling Dirt

Mountains are too big to move. Plain and simple. I don't buy that if I believe it enough, the whole freagin mountain is going to up and move. Shoveling dirt, one scoop at a time, focused, yet delighting in slugs and earthy smells, I can imagine that at some point, one could look up, say forty years later and discover that, in addition to finding others digging and shoveling in your vicinity, the entire mountain has shifted to a new location. This is the kind of faith I get.

But even this "lesser" faith is hard for me to practice. My integrated female brain wants to look at the whole mountain, and my heart feels the heavy, impossible burden of moving the whole damn thing and I'm sunk in stress before I've shoveled a day's worth and come home for Sabbath. Sabbath, to me, is the practice of trusting God enough to not feel compelled to attempt moving the whole mountain at once; the discipline of leaving things unfinished, to celebrate the goodness of today, with each shovel's worth, and the goodness of rest and life and things to come, never snatching control of tomorrow, but letting it stay with God, while we live in today -- an eternal gift, available only now.

I look at all there is for me to manage and I feel too responsible for a 26, almost 27-year-old woman. I want to say girl, because part of me wants to stay young enough, free enough to still be called a girl. I don't want to commute back and forth to my daughter's school in Haddonfield twice before 12am, and then back and forth to my school in Philly on top of that. I don't want want my week nights filled with PTA-esque responsbilities related to back to school stuff that seems fluffy, yet fairly obligatory. I want to stay home and watch a movie, sip a hot chocolate or read a fucking book. Or, God forbid, take a bath or even have sex. Or just stare at a spider alighting on my screen while crickets hum the gentle sounds of evening.

I resent the mountain I feel has been hoisted on my shoulders by forces beyond my control, outside in the ridiculous, oft annoying world, and inside me, in the fermented basements of my soul, where judgment gets clouded and I cause myself harm and unnecessary pain. I let go a little more today.

And perhaps that little letting go is a shovel's worth.


Amy said...

Ahhh...I understand, Jemila. It is a shovel's worth, maybe more.

I drove 100 miles in my little town (suburb) last Thursday between school, preschool and soccer practice. There are parts that really stink about it, but then there's the support I'm giving my kids. I count that as a shovel-full.

I hope you get a night at home to do as you so choose soon!

Jemila Monroe said...

Yo, I just don't agree with how our culture is set up. It doesn't seem right to me to have to act like ants in order to give our children a foundation of love, trust, learning and delight.

Any suggestions on a different way of doing life with kids in suburbia?

Amy said...

Oh, I wish I knew! We do limit activities. I don't do special classes/program until their old enough to do it on their own (3 1/2 - 4). Anything else I figure I can do as part of our time together.

I don't do preschool until 1 year before kindergarten. Part of that is financial, though. I try to only have one activity going at a time. It's not too bad right now, except for Thursdays.

But, your right, life shouldn't be crazy like this all the time. It feels so disjointed and seems to pull us away from family rather than pulling us together. How do you do it??

Janice said...

Hi Amy, Hi Jemila!

I pop in here every so often - today I stopped at Amy's and then ended up over here.

I don't have any advice - I'm just a fellow traveller....but a few things struck me in reading Jemilas' post and then the comments thereafter.

Any suggestions on a different way of doing life with kids in suburbia?

Does this suggest that living elsewhere is different? Just curious. . . if it was just a statement of 'what is' as opposed to pointing at something in suburbia that contributes to this...?

But, your right, life shouldn't be crazy like this all the time.

I know what you mean Amy...but you got me thinking - what SHOULD it be like? In a perfect world - what would life 'feel' like or be like? In real terms - what would a day look like? *smile*

I personally have chosen to slow down - over the past 5 years or so. I don't take any classes anymore, not really. I'm not even in a bible study currently. ('not even'..funny how that comes out) My son does one or two activities, thats it. We don't run ragged. We choose not to. At times this drives some in my family nuts..but I refuse to hustle and bustle all the time. Life is too fleeting. I also recognize that I chose to have kids and so that is where much of my energy is at this point. I do certain things for me and certain things for my kids and it all pretty much works because what I do for me ultimately makes me better, makes our lives better. I guess if what I'm doing is making life crap, then I need to re-evaluate. Sometimes things need to be semi-crappy for a later payoff, thats something everyone has to weigh for their own families and lives.

Anyway, I can relate. I'll be thinking about both of you today. :)

Jemila Monroe said...

Yes, that's a great question Janice. What would a balanced, happy life look like? I think life-giving. A garden to care for, rather than a world to save or fear-based activity. Creativity and rest, play and silent revery, laughter and sipping mochas by the fire, or fair trade iced coffee on the deck. Positive, peaceful people to laugh with and be with. A sense of joyful work and contentment in being. Yeah, that would be a good life.

Amy & Janice, I agree about taking it a little slower. It just seems hard to know how to do something as simple as give to charity or be involved in your child's learning without having a million advertisements trying to suck a piece out of you for their cause. I suppose a place to start is spiritual practices that help us be centered so we are less phased by the overstimulation, less seduced to think we have to do everything (and then find we are so paralyzed we do nothing.)

I would like to create a Christian zen group or something...

Janice said...

I would like to create a Christian zen group or something...

Great idea! But its one more activity -- to create, organize...host? lol You sound like me - I jump at opportunities to get involved or organize things or make things happen. I just saw your post on EW about an east coast event and I almost replied that I could help you out (I'm near Baltmore) but I stopped myself...I decided a few years back that I couldn't be the 'go to person' all the time for a while...I needed a season with less hmmm, 'giving' isn't the right word...but less activity.

I think your description of life Jemila is a good one and I think that is sort of what I've been reaching for in the past several years (despite a lot of turmoil at home, or maybe BECAUSE of it) I've slowed down to take time enjoying just living, each breath....stopping to enjoy creation, coffee, smores over an open fire...the laughter of my son.

I spend more time reading and contemplating rather than commenting....

I still have my causes and my activities...but I'm not running hither and yon at break neck speed, no longer trying to do it all or pick up every cause that comes my way. I've just really slowed down I guess.

I'm learning the art of contentment in a new way. Not feeling (or giving in to) that push to do and to have and to be 'more'.

This past Saturday my son and I did almost nothing apart from our regular house cleaning. We snuggled and hung out just enjoying each other and what we've been given. In some ways it sounds like a waste of a day but in another way its such a gift and was with a grateful heart - for my family, for the things God has given me. I think that helps give my son a good foundation of trust,learning, and delight that you mentioned earlier. I'm not sure what running from activity to activity really gives him a sense of.....

hmmm, I will have to think about that some.