Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Coming Alive

Dear Little Man,

I'm so grateful to be your mama. When you were eight weeks along -- before you were born, just beginning your life's journey -- my doctor wanted to make sure you weren't twins. She took the Preacher and me into a room and slathered my still-flat tummy with goo.

For the first time, we watched the galloping beats of your heart, and my own heart squeezed tight. I was a mama, for real a mother. And I knew this for sure: Wild beasts could not have kept me from you.

At that moment, you (all embryo-huge head, heart beating outside your body) were our son. Wonder stole our words; before I even knew I was crying, tears hit the table. I recall the doctor had something to say, but her words are blurred. But I remember your pull on my heartstrings, a new understanding of the beauty and brokenness of motherhood. I would love you and pray for you and try not to worry about you, that day and every day after.

You were born early but healthy, covered in baby down. (The Preacher may or may not have been extra proud that you were born with chest hair.) I believed suddenly in love at first sight.

And now, Little Man, you're six years old. Six, and I wonder where three and two and five and four went. Where are those sleepy newborn days? Gone?

But no, son . . . days are never gone. Now, they're poured out onto the soil of your life, watering the lanky form of my boy.
My boy, who loves to read, and use a hammer.
My boy, who was baptized in November.

My boy who's always been a music-lover, and lately
I hear you singing in the back of the car --
just quietly, to yourself, to Him;
you're singing, Hallelujah.
The boy I longed for is singing to the Giver, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
And my heart squeezes (still today), 'til I fear I'll die of love.

Until I remember, grateful, that
love is the life-giver.

And all this squeezing is my heart's coming alive, over and over again,
while you sing.

And I hope you never stop.

Thanks for Mother's Day,

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Photo Credit
Last week, the ShoeFitzes hiked a new-to-us part of the Appalachian Trail. Recently, we've spent evenings hiking an easier section, but that day we took a rockier path. With room for one person at a time, the trail sloped stubbornly upward.

From a distance, the Appalachians don't appear to hold the challenge of other mountain ranges. Over time, they've lost the sharp physique of a fitness model. Angles smoothed, our mountains curve a mother's silhouette, welcoming tough hikers and small children alike. Other ranges gleam stark and jagged; the Blue Ridge stand steady, quietly protecting. 

Yet smooth mountains aren't necessarily easy hikes.

Climbing last week, my hand gripped Little Man's tighter and tighter. (He, like his mama, has the propensity to walk too close to the edge.) We found the hike muddy and rubble-strewn. And if mud had made the upward hike tricky, it made the last part fully intimidating -- steep cliffside, overlooking brush falling maybe 60 degrees down to the road below.

Little Man asked, of course, why I wouldn't let him walk by himself. (Six years old is the new 16.) When we finally made it to level ground, he was poised to begin the hike all over again. His parents, on the other hand, were finished, exhausted.

How strange that on a hike that looked relatively simple, we could run into muddy hills, steep cliffs, and rubble-strewn paths. Less than a mile from the highway, our muscles strained with exertion. I wondered as we climbed whether people down there could see us. . . and whether, from far below, our hike appeared easy.

After all, from a distance, worn hills look so small.

It's strange, this hiking thing, because we all do it. We all hike. Sometimes, from the ground below, I watch friends climb their own trails. They tug families uphill, tiny children atop shoulders, older ones running ahead. From where I stand, their hills can look easy, soft.

From far away, I can't see the strain of their muscles, their sweat-stained shirts. I can't see the fear when someone slips, the push to get back to safety. All I see, from where I stand, is a walk in the sunshine. 

And I wonder whether I need glasses.

I wonder how many times I've envied the hike of friends, not realizing they were walking paths tossed with mud and rubble. Not seeing the rocks that gave way when they should've held firm. Not realizing their backpacks were heavier than mine in the first place. (Some of us, you know, carry more than water on our backs.)

How many times have I been so focused on the trail in front of my own feet, that I've been dead to the journey of others?

It's so easy to forget we're all hiking straight uphill.

Getting these eyes checked,

Shared here:Deep Roots