Thursday, August 20, 2009

RainSongs and Birthdays

I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain.
Nothing new about that this summer.
I don't remember a season with so many quiet, gentle rains, though.
Most of the time we get storms blowing through with driving rain, rain that tap-dances all over the roof and into the ground: noisy, harsh, rhythmic. We had that kind of rain yesterday afternoon, and the creek came up in minutes.
But this spring and summer we've had a lot of quiet showers, gentle rain that simply taps against the roof shyly, as if not sure it's welcome.
I sleep with the bedroom window open, so when it began to rain I heard it first as a whispering in the leaves, then a little tapping in the mulch on the path. It woke me up just enough to listen for a few minutes, and I was struck by the layering of sound, the musicality of it. Locusts droned over the rain, thunder grumbled now and then, and an occasional car went by on the street, adding its sound to the whole. Every now and then the rain would come a little more intensely, then diminish again.
It was like a lullaby, just for me, and like anyone listening to a lovely lullaby, I went back to sleep.


Today would have been my mother-in-law's birthday.
When I first knew her, it seemed to be a non-event. She didn't make a fuss about it, and neither did anyone else. She got cards and good wishes, but as far as I know, not much else by way of celebration.
Maybe that's why I remember the year we surprised her with a birthday cake. She had a hard time believing it, and I think she was both pleased and a little embarrassed. After that, I think we celebrated her birthdays regularly, and her response each year was a little less embarrassment and a little more pleasure at being remembered.
All of which is to say, celebrations are fun, and worthwhile. Even if what we celebrate is not a particularly big deal, it's good to fold joy into each day, and a celebration of one kind or another is a fine way to do that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Weddings and Flowers and Joy

We've been working on wedding flowers for DD#4. Planning flowers and music are two of the loveliest parts of imagining a wedding, and this one is no exception. Whatever else they are, weddings are fundamentally an opportunity to express our deepest longings for beauty and stability, for warmth and love. While our expressions of those things may differ, I am convinced those longings are the same for every family that plans a wedding.

While I can't go into much detail yet about what kinds of flowers and music DD#4 will have at her wedding, thinking about her flower choices made me think about flowers I love. This afternoon I was thinking about roses nestled into evergreen sprays. I've used rose and evergreen arrangements often during holiday seasons, but I also like rose and boxwood in the summer. There's something about dressing the roses in a collar of greenery that enhances the color, texture, and fragrance of both elements.

We had blue asters at our wedding, and I still remember their delicate color with joy. My sister and I mixed up our bouquets -- she tried to tell me I was carrying her maid-of-honor bouquet -- but I loved the colors in it, and insisted it was mine. She was right, though, and ended up carrying the bridal bouquet. Fortunately I still got the groom despite the bouquet mix-up.
What are your favorite flowers? and how do you arrange them?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keeping On . . .

Summer offers so many pleasures. Ball games in the front yard, picnics in the back. But summer won't last indefinitely. Days are shorter now, just a bit, and here and there a leaf or two has turned. Summer is still clearly in charge, but it isn't hard to imagine the cooler days that are coming soon.
This has been a summer of housework and homework for me. Among other things, we're cleaning out the garage -- who knew cleaning out a garage could become a career choice? And I've been in school, stitching together all the educational pieces I've collected over the years. By next May I'll have a degree to show for it. Stir in a family wedding, new babies, and assorted other changes, and it's been a busy time.
There is a lot of satisfaction in finishing things, putting some kind of order where before there wasn't much. We don't always get to do a lot of that. Much of my life I've been a mom, and that is not a job where you see too many immediate results.
But this summer has been a good reminder that most finishings represent a lot of little steps, a lot of little things, faithfully done. I think they represent the endurance Paul writes about in Romans, when he talks about what difficulties accomplish in us. Sometimes our difficulties seem small or insignificant, and we don't want to make too much of them, but still they have a way of tripping us up. And yet, if we hold onto hope, if we persevere, our character is formed by the things that seem, at least for a season, difficult.
We just have to keep on keeping on, doing what we are supposed to do, doing what we are called to do, doing the next right thing.