Hands open.

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 I was watering the garden in the smoke yesterday, watching how quickly the water disappears into the dry earth. Our friend who is helping with watering asked me if she was doing it right on her days. “I just don’t understand why it looks like I’m not even watering.” 

“It’s just that dry,” I told her.

 A drop lands and practically sizzles. It sends a puff of dust. The sky is like a bruise. The sun simultaneously scorching and weak through the smoke.

I watered, and I thought, “That first rain is going to be like a miracle.” 

It takes going through a dry season here to really appreciate the rain. 

The sky opens up. Water comes from heaven. What? Is that really possible? 

In two minutes God accomplishes what I would have to spend eight hours to do with my puny little sprinklers. 

The first rain.

Fasting and feasting. Waiting for the promise. The Bible is packed full of references to this part of our life with God. We are in the now/not yet. We know rain will come, but we can’t control when it will give us those first drops. 

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; 

His going out is as sure as the dawn;

He will come to us as the showers, 

As the spring rain that waters the earth.”  - Hosea 6:3

Sometimes when I am waiting for God, I get a little too invested in my own systems. I wrap my gnarled rat hands around the garden hose, insisting that my efforts are going to be AMAZING. It’s okay if you don’t want to come now, I tell him. I can do it all by myself. 


And then the rain comes. It drenches me, the garden hose, my gnarled rat hands and my face scrunched up from my efforts to be a tiny god. We are all soaked, instantly. Better to lay down on the ground, hands open, mouth open. 


That first rain is going to be like a miracle.

***

(Cross posted at the Shekina Blog.)

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. Special thanks this month to new patron, Stephanie Connelly!

Hot Season Days.

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Chinua is back and we are in long days that start off cool and, by mid afternoon, are hot in the way that makes your clothes feel like they just came out of the dryer. Pool time. Sitting under fans eating fruit. Cleaning and painting and writing and planning.

This is the smoky/hot season. A different kind of time.

People give each other nods in the street. I see you stayed. I stayed too. Much of our international community has fled the smoke for the islands. We wear masks sometimes. Sometimes we forget. It’s not so bad, it will be better in a week or so.

At the garden, the grass crunches underfoot no matter how much we water it. Dried leaves pile up. The new leaves are sprouting. Josh and Neil put in a new watering system in the food forest and it’s a delight.

Isaac has a loose tooth and tells me, “I love my loose tooth.” A long time ago Kenya told me she wanted to keep her loose tooth as long as she could because she would miss wiggling it with her tongue. We are a fidgety people.

I finished my final paper and have taken a quarter off to finish writing World Whisperer 5 and other things. I’m trying to pace myself more. It’s a bit nuanced for me: I either want to do all the work or none of the work, but I’m trying to learn how to work in a relaxed, sauntery fashion.

I painted Kai’s room. He moved from the very back of the outer house to the front of the outer house, and his space looks much better. Things I still need to paint: the back outer room, the kitchen, the downstairs back room. Things I need to clean and sort: everything. The car is in the shop getting prepped for a trip to Chiang Mai. The boys washed the motorbikes and themselves.

Life during a break is good. Ordinary grumpiness in the heat. Teenager stuff. Everyone tripping over each other. The good kinds of irritation, springing from a full house and a lot of love.

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Swathed

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The world is swathed in dirty white. Smoky season. We pray for wind, or even better, rain. My eyes sting, and not only because of smoke. I miss seeing the world, seeing color, seeing the blue of the sky.

It will come back. I remind myself.

I remind myself that I longed to be in a place for all of its seasons, back when I was only in Goa for six months in each year, moving from place to place.

Beauty is a kind of food to me, and not just conventional beauty. Rusty tin siding in many colors is just as edible. But without being able to see, I am at a loss.

So I listen. The birds are active, first thing in the morning. I have always loved that about this house. The forest flies to us, despite the buildings all around. This morning I hear a koel, magpie robins, bulbuls, a crow (which is rare, maybe it is a mynah masquerading as a crow), spotted doves, mynahs, and the nearby roosters.

*

There were lumps on a pan in the oven, a couple of weeks back. I took note, wondered at them, left them. Sometimes I think about this lack of control over my kitchen and wonder if it is odd. Someone is always making something, and it could be food, or it could be an experiment.

“It’s fun for the kids but it must be difficult for you,” a friend remarked the other day, when she found the pulp from the oranges Isaac had been juicing. 

No, actually. I like it. It is interesting. Curious. And then they make delicious things for me to eat. They have to clean up after themselves… though they sometimes forget, and then I have to call for them and make them do it.

Maybe it helps that the kitchen is outdoors, already sort of half play place.

It definitely helps that I have help from a cleaning lady.

Anyway, there were lumps in the oven, slowly cooking, over days.

“What are these?” Kenya asked me.

“I have no idea,” I said. “Some kind of Leafy thing I guess.”

She laughed. “Did I tell you what he was doing the other day? I came in and he was scraping and boiling mango skins. I asked what he was making, and he said, ‘I’m trying to find an alternative to paper. I figure we can save a lot of money if we use mango skins.’”

“Did it work?” I asked.

“No, it just smudged when he tried to write on them.”

Just then, Leafy came into the kitchen.

“Did you see my bioplastic?” he asked, pointing at the lumps in the oven. “I’m making it from milk protein. But I accidentally mixed up fahrenheit and celcius, so they got a bit too brown.”

Interesting. Curious.

*

Chinua is still away in India. We are more than ready for him to come back. This kind of longing feels good in a way, though. Pieces that will be put right when they come back together.

I hope the wind comes, and drives off all the smoke. I hope the sky comes through again. I hope the rain comes and waters the earth. I hope I can truly see and feel the belovedness of myself and every person I meet.  

***

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. The Patron post from February (Beauty in the burned world) and Creative Update vlog for February/March are up now!

Lessons, then and now.

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I love koels. They’re not so much to look at, just a non-descript medium sized black bird, but their calls do something to my soul. They remind me of our first days in the jungle house in Goa, sitting on the porch, listening to the new strange sounds all around me, and the night that is never quiet. For a time, there, I thought I would die of homesickness. But I didn’t die, and I have found a sort of home in the world.

But back then, with all my little children, so cute and sticky, I studied the hard lesson of finding a home in myself. This is a lesson that continued, even now, with all the teenagers. With the terse language and independence, with the support of tall people. How to make a meal, offer something, perhaps be rejected, and then come back home to dwell inside my own house, my skin and bones and muscles. 

Not that my kids reject me. They’re the kindest people I know. It’s the shifting landscape of need that I find tricky. They need me in different ways. And I see the gaps in their experience, the ways we have not been all they need, and I can only pray that grace fills all the holes.

It’s no use to wish yourself different. I think the Internet is bad for this. A few hours on Facebook can have you wondering why you are the way you are, why life seems so effortless for everyone else. It has you second-guessing yourself as a parent, friend, human being. Other people seem to relax more, be less introverted, less intense. 

Come back to yourself. Sit easily here, you are made as you are, and you are allowed to be that particular bird, with your own call, sitting in your own tree. No one is as easy as you may perceive. We all wonder how to make our mouths do the right thing sometimes. (Is this a smile? Or am I grimacing again. Which words are meant to come out next?) 

God comes home to himself on a day of rest. He creates and then sits and regards his work. He makes a way for us to be at home in ourselves. At rest in creation, walking the woods, listening to birds, marveling at the veins under our skin.

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work.