This Isn’t Normal

I’m standing in my clothes, waist high in water.  I’m baptizing, with my husband, a great friend.  I’m invited to join in this ancient ritual, this sacred symbol of the old person buried and rising to new life.  I suddenly realize how average I am, how mortal, as I participate in this divine act.  This isn’t normal. 

All morning, my concept of normal gets pushed aside, flicked far away.  First of all, I’m at a worship service in somebody’s front yard, overlooking the mountains.  I’m slapping my thighs to the beat of the Bluegrass band.  I’m drinking root beer.  There’s a banjo, even.  Can this be worship?  If not, then why am I overcome with the sense of God’s presence? How is this normal?

Then, the woman sharing a picnic blanket with me starts talking about her children.  A teenage girl lounges against her, and little girls play with her purse and makeup.    She tells me that she always wanted a big family. But these aren’t her biological children.  These girls have other mothers.  But ask her about the sleepover parties she hosts, the children she loves, and her dreams of running an orphanage and providing foster care.

“Right now, I have so many children, it’s ridiculous.  And I’ll have so many more,” she tells me. 

She’s a mother in the fullest sense of the word.  She has a divine calling to mother.  I look around the worship gathering.  I can’t even find my children.  Then, I see they are with another mother doing a craft.  And then, another mother’s daughter lies back into my lap and touches my face.  She gazes up at me, and I stroke her hair. 

My definitions are so narrow in scope.  When I broaden them, let out the hem, loosen the strings, and release the word, I find that what I think is divine, what I think constitutes worship, and what I believe motherhood means changes considerably.

What other words need broader definitions?  Living with flair means I don’t limit the meaning of the words that define my life.

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The Bad Day Mantra

As far as bad days go for a five year old, this one ranks high.  While at her yearly check-up, she discovered she might need glasses, was told her spine might be slightly crooked, and, to make matters worse, endured two shots in both thighs.  My job was to “restrain” her arms and legs as the nurses jabbed the needles in.

Not flair.  No, this was not flair at all today.

We left the doctor’s office right at lunch time.  Dairy Queen was on the way home, so we pulled in.  The whole time, I’m trying to comfort her, but nothing’s working.

As we order food inside, I begin telling our server all about my daughter’s horrible day.  Hopefully, some ice cream will help matters.  A few minutes later, this same server came to our table.  Seeing my daughter still tear-stained and sniffling, I said, “We are just having a really bad day.” 

“Well,” she said as she handed us our food, “there’s a lot of day still left.”

My daughter looked at her and smiled.  The thought of “a lot of day still left,” worked.  The radical concept that the day wasn’t doomed just because of a bad morning transformed this little girl’s world.  There was still time–seconds, minutes, hours even–to redeem the day.  There was still time for flair. 

I wanted to kiss the server.  I told her that her comment would change the course of our whole day.  Once again, language well-timed and well-spoken can create a new reality.  The comment created anticipation.  Something good would come.  And by the time we’d finished lunch, ice-cream, and some laughs in our booth, it already had.

Living with flair means remembering “there’s a lot of day still left.”   Even if we’re down to seconds, there’s still time for flair.

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