Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Right Thing

I generally shy away from publicly stating my political beliefs.  I am pretty open about my religious beliefs, but for some reason I don't like to participate in conversations about politics on open internet forums.  But I can't stop thinking about some recent events, and I don't know, maybe you have too?  I don't claim to have the right answer, or to know exactly what we should do, but I need to process my thoughts and there's nothing quite like writing for sorting out what you are thinking.

First of all, perhaps you've heard what happened in Beirut, and what Adel Termos did?  Another article reporting the story, here.

I read about Adel and his sacrifice and I feel good inside, about the decency, the absolute heroism left in some of humanity.  But then, I turn around and I see news reports of states here in the U.S. making the decisions about opening their borders or not, governors taking one position or another about harboring refugees.

I read through the arguments for each side, and I think of Adel Termos. I think of what I have read about the refugee camps in Germany and France, the conditions there and the suffering the people are still enduring even after escaping their war ridden country.  I appreciate the idea that it would be an ideal situation for terrorists to send in sleeper agents who could then put themselves in prime positions to attack our communities, our families, our way of life.

But then I think of Adel Termos.  He saw someone coming with intent to hurt, kill, destroy.  He saw past that to the crowds, the women, the children, the elderly, and the men about their morning business.  He saw life and he knew he had to protect it.  In a matter of just moments his life was over but he had preserved so much.

We have an opportunity now to look out at crowds who are not currently celebrating life, they are enduring it, in harsh, horrible, conditions that we would scarce believe still exist in our modern, comfy world.  When you sit down to watch your netflix, on your soft couch, with your bowl of chips, while your dinner cooks in the oven with food prepared from your fridge, and your central heating kicks on, try to imagine what it is like for these people who haven't seen fresh food in too long, and who haven't had the option of a real toilet in far far too long, and ask yourself what you are protecting by keeping these people out?

You are keeping out cold, hungry children, cold, hungry grandparents, cold, hungry mothers and fathers and yes maybe, just maybe someone evil who would want to hurt us.  But I keep going back to the image of Adel Termos, and what he must have seen in his last moments.

He did not value his own life more than that of the lives of the people in the crowds beyond.  Why do we value our own lives so much higher than those of the refugees?

Again, I don't know exactly what the right thing to do is, but I do know that I have blankets to spare, and food in my pantry to spare, and change in my pocket and in my wallet.  (Even in my couch cushions.)  I know that there is space in my heart for these people to come here, and that I would personally be willing to dig a little deeper in my life to find room for people who have absolutely nothing.

Am I truly alone in this?

Someone just sent me the link to this, so I know I will be donating to the humanitarian aid.  I wish there was something more personal I could do, too though, you know?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Keeper and the Guardian

There is something in this moment, something that grabs at my throat and pulls at the tears gathering in my eyes.  Something that makes me aware of every breath I take, and every beat of my heart.  Something elusive and fleeting, and I worry that if I don't sit down and try to capture it in words on paper it will float out the window on the warm gentle breeze blowing through my windows, carried away with the sunshine and sound of birds.

I hear it in the sounds of laughter and voices calling from outside, as Heather plays on the swings and Hazel dumps sand on herself in the sandbox.  I am in their bedroom, the window just above where they play.  I watch their tiny bodies as I fold laundry and pick up the flotsam and jetsam of childhood that is strewn about their room.

I hear it coming from the next room, as Hallie giggles softly to herself.  She is surrounded by piles of books that have been pulled off the bookshelf, in careful search for the one that was just right for the afternoon.  She is laying on her stomach flipping through the pages of Calvin and Hobbes.  I know she can't understand all of the words, but Calvin's face is expressive enough, and he is childlike just often enough, that I catch her laughing as she turns to see what he will be up to next.

I hear it from the kitchen below, where Hanna is humming her own tunes that drift out of her mind through her mouth like a music box that will never shut, and never plays the same melody twice.  She is hard at work, lost in a trance of creativity and effort as she creates works of art that dazzle and inspire her.  Her humming and singing crescendoes as she comes to the finish of one masterpiece, and begin building softly again as she starts on a fresh one.

The wind blowing through the open windows of my home on this warm fall afternoon carry the sounds away, and I wonder what the neighbors think when they hear it, I wonder if they pause in their hustle and bustle and think back on their own childhoods.

I wonder at the magic in these sounds to carry me away, transported back to my own childhood, my own afternoons in the sunshine, in the sand and on the swing, my own adventures with Calvin and the nearly ever loyal Hobbes, my own attempts at expressing myself through art and song.

I go from room to room, putting things back in their places, and on some days it is tiring work, sometimes it is irritating to do it over and over.  My life on those days feels like a horrible joke that someone won't stop telling, and I wonder what it's all for - I pick something up knowing it will be on the floor again in minutes.  I ask them to do something knowing they will not hear me, or forget what I've said within minutes.  On the really discouraging days I wonder if I even have a voice that makes actual sounds -  if a mom says something in a house and none of the children hear her, did she say anything at all?  And what is the purpose of all that I do if all of it is undone immediately?

Then I have a day like today, and the wind brushes my hair like a gentle caress, and pours the sounds of my happy children into my heart, and I know my purpose.

I don't know if I have adequately captured the moment, but I have given it my best.  Hopefully it is good enough that on the discouraging days I can look back at this and feel that breeze again in my heart, and remember.  This is their childhood, and I am the keeper and guardian of it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

On to the Next Big Thing

Five years ago, give or take a couple weeks, a younger Devin and I spent the day with our younger Hallie and Hanna at a car dealership. We were trying to decide which Mazda 5 to buy.  It was a big gulp for us to drop that 20 some thousand dollars, but our little family was growing and it was time to upgrade to a second car and a bigger vehicle.  The next day we drove past a different car dealership on our way somewhere else, and saw a beautiful sight - a slightly used Mazda 5 for half the price we had been planning to pay.  We squealed a u-turn, marched in, and dropped a fat check on a shocked salesperson's desk.

It was a happy five years, 100,000 miles, and a million memories.  That little car drove us to Utah, Texas, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  It knew our little section of Lincoln like the...backseat of... itself.  And then, in the way that you know things that you know, it was time to let it go.

Our family had grown again, and that little micro minivan was getting tired.  You gotta know when to put them out to pasture, I guess.

This is Hallie posing in the driver's seat the day we got the Mazda.
I know, I know.

And for the curious, here's a shot of what Hanna looked like that day five years ago:

Hallie posed for me in the Honda Odyssey we brought home today.  Hanna jumped in too, of course.  Now that she's old enough for such things and such.

 Here's a shot of the "new" additions to the family since that day five years ago, Heather and Hazel:

We just call Hazel "The Bigness".  Mostly as a reminder to myself that she isn't my tiny tiny baby anymore, but she's all big now and doing her stuff.

That's what they call "smoky topaz" and I call "dark grey" and Devin calls "charcoal"

Did you catch Hazel in the reflection? Hi baby!

One last shot, the odometer showing 2 miles driven.  
Here's to new beginnings, new adventures, and new memories.
And, ironically enough, we are back at being a one vehicle family.
That's irony, right?
I don't know.