Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: Worry and Light

This isn't monumental:

Our sweet Lauren Jade needs tubes in her ears.  For months, I became more and more concerned with her hearing; she can hear, but she watches my mouth as I repeat sentences once...twice...three times.  So: tubes.  This girl has never had an ear infection in her life, which was the only reason I ever knew for which tubes were required, but: tubes.  Surgery.  Alone.  It may not be monumental, but it feels that way. 

And that's not all. 

Everything feels bigger lately: worry about how I'm raising my children; doubts that I'm doing anything right (and what is right, anyway?); my terrible inability to keep our house clean enough to maintain the sense of calm that only comes when I'm surrounded by order; my family's diet, and whether or not it's as varietal and fresh and nourishing as it could be; deep desires to be a more faithful person, but desire isn't enough, is it?; the question of this baby's gender (as if I could control it, and if I could, would I even want to?) which occupies my thoughts for hours each day; fears about the difficulties my daughters' futures will hold; the constant, black worry behind my heart that pulses with the words loss -- death -- disease...

Although the (incomplete) list is mismatched in both severity and probability, it all feels huge.  Driving down the road, listening to calm music, it still feels huge.  Impassable.  It swells and bulges (blocking my view), all of this wondering and worrying, and that's big in itself because I wouldn't generally classify myself as a worrier.  Why all the sudden?  Is it hormonal?  Cultural?  Societal?

Or is it just me -- being me?

The real drama comes when I survey the world.  Oh, the lovely, terrifying world.  The devastating tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis and droughts and wars and upheaval and politics and the constant drive to win.  How do people get past this?  How do you get past this?  Especially if getting past it means tightening your net to only worry about the ones directly within your reach -- which brings us back to the non-monumental but still-bulging facts of life.

How do we poke a tiny hole in the impassive, massive balloon of concern that blocks our view and prevents us from moving forward?  How do we drain it, let it all trickle away -- not ignoring its presence, just witnessing it and letting it take up only as much space as is due: droplets of thought to be pondered within proportion.



Rushing on our way to the last ballet class of the year, I bellow orders.  Shoes!  Jackets!  Garage!  Car!  Seatbelts!  Now, now, now! 

Lauren, in short-sleeve-dress and bare legs, asserts her independence and denies the need for a jacket.  She likes the coldmess more than she likes jackets.  Mia follows her baby sister's lead, and together they hop down garage stairs and out to the driveway.  I shiver.  It is 54 degrees -- beautiful, but cool on my skin. 

Exasperated, my jaw tightens as I watch them disobey (with joyful lightheartedness).  They dance on the driveway while I put our things in the car.  Girls!  You have to get in right now!  Come on!  I've already asked twice!

I make sure nobody's changed their minds about jackets; they haven't.  Mia bounces over to me.  Mom you should go feel the sunshine!  The shade is pretty chilly, but the sun!  It's FABULOUS, mom!  Go feel it!

But I don't have time.  I buckle the girls into their carseats, slowing down only long enough to avoid a pinched thigh or a crooked clasp.  One girl, then the other; all the while, they're chattering about the sun.  It's been days since we've seen a golden ray of light, and it's captured their hearts first thing in the morning.  Once more, Mia begs:

Please, mom?  Step out there and feel the sun.  You'll love it -- I promise.  Her eyes are solemn and pure.  Grayish blue like mine, but they see so much more.  Sighing, I agree.  I'll step out there, but only for a second.  We can't be late (again).

Wrapping my arms around my torso, I shiver again -- why didn't I grab a jacket? -- and step onto the driveway.  The long morning shadow from our neighbor's oak tree casts itself at my feet, and Mia's right: it's chilly, in a blue, misty, damp sort of way.  Three more steps, and my right toe is in a patch of light.  One more and my body is drenched in warmth. 

Despite myself, I close my eyes and turn to the east.  The startling whiteness of the sun flashes across my purple eyelids, and I endure a moment of blindness.  I gather a breath.  The air is so fresh and clean that my lungs ache to be more full than physically possible.  I exhale and repeat, raising my arms and spinning a circle with the breeze.  The shadows tickle my outstretched arms with cool -- the sun pulls me back around again.

I open my eyes, take in the blue dome of sky, greedily steal one last lung-full of air, and return to the garage, smiling and slow.  There was time, after all.


Here's one way: drop a thread of busy, worried time long enough to grasp a single moment's worth of sunlight and warmth.  It will last all day, nestled where it was seared behind reluctant eyelids.

We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join us today at Melissa's place!  Grab the button, link up and share your Bigger Picture with us!


  1. "Grayish blue like mine, but they see so much more." i have a girl just like that. beautifully put.

    give yourself some grace, too. it's ALL harder/more intense when you're pregnant.

  2. Great advice to pause for a moment from the day's melee and soak up a ray of sun. I happened to be blessed to do just that this afternoon with a picnic lunch and it really has stayed with me all afternoon.

    I absolutely love your word choices - they're so juicily descriptive with a hint of whimsy and much insight. So, with such a rich image as the word bellow creates in my head, I'm having a very peculiar image of you (with as relatively little I know from bookclub) bellowing. Because you have such a grace and polite assertiveness about you, you naturally command respect and perhaps, admittedly, my mental image of a bellow is a bit too Madame Thénardier from Les Miserables, I find it an interesting juxtaposition in my head.

    Thank you for sharing your delightful words. Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.

  3. you had me on the edge of my seat to take that breath with you. :-)

  4. Kristen! Hi! You are so tuned in -- I almost changed 'bellow' several times, but couldn't get past the feeling inside me. It feels like bellowing, when I try to coax such action out of a moment. It felt like a bellow: all force and push and controlled air. But you're right -- in actuality, I bet my voice didn't convey that feeling...perhaps, thus, the disobeying daughters... :)

    I'm so glad you commented!

  5. It feels like the weight of the world and all of it's flaws are on your shoulders when one is pregnant. More vulnerable? More open to the earth, the skies, to our own needs, and the needs of our children. When we are pregnant we should listen to their voices more. They help calm all the noise. However with all this being said I was worrying today about many of the very same things

    "The devastating tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis and droughts and wars and upheaval and politics and the constant drive to win."

    I was pondering the very same things while cuddling with my bambinos. I wonder what they will have to deal with. What will be their world be like?

    I guess we should all just breathe and be.

  6. what a beautiful post. I am sorry to hear about the tubes. i am sure all that must really be stressful to you! As for how you feel in wondering if your efforts are enough, I'd say-join the crowd. I feel the SAME way. Same exact way. Nice to know someone else feels that way too!

  7. totally love this one. It is amazing!

  8. My oldest had tubes too! It was so hard for me, but it was amazing for her. She came out of surgery hearing and listening and talking. she only said five words when she went in, but was repeating everything others said when she came out.

  9. I love it-not your struggle with worries (um did you climb inside my head?) or that Lauren has to have tubes but the way you stole that moment of sunshine and the way Mia-noticed and insisted on it!! Wishing for more sunshine, but enjoying the little I have now!!

  10. This post is so rich, so dense with beauty and meaning, and I just love it and can totally and completely relate. {Also, I get waaay more "ohmygosheverythingisgoingtoimplode" when I'm pregnant. There is a certain amount of hormonal-induced worry that embeds inself in my brain during those times.}

  11. This is such a beautiful post I'm not sure my comments can do it justice, can I just say Ditto to Suzannah's? :-)


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