I heard the sound of birds this morning, followed by a squawk of the same species, but different voice. One of my hopes for living out here is to come away with a more intimate knowledge of nature. Right now, they’re birds. I have yet to learn their names.
Two years in a row, we saw when they left. The first year was the last week in October, this past year, the first day of November. Come 9 o’clock in the morning each time, at the tail end of breakfast, the kids and I heard a loud ruckus right outside the dining room window. The backyard trees exploded with black birds.
There are natural phenomenons so magnificent, that the primal response for me is to laugh. It happened last summer at the solar eclipse, as soon as the darkness covered the sun. I laughed out tears then laughed them away. In those ninety-so seconds of indescribable light, I nearly lost consciousness of everyone around me.
The crickets started chirping in afternoon heat, a sound you never hear in the summer til evening! A rooster crowed from the next farm over, doing what the light had told him to do. I heard the laughter of one of my sons, stretching out his arms like he was spreading his wings, running gracefully round and around in the yard.
The kids and I ran outside to see them. For the next half hour, we followed as they flocked from one set of trees to the next. We ran through the athletic field and stood at the fence, for they had flown across the street in to the neighbor’s back yard. The last time we saw them, they were flying away, waving again for the ones who missed them.
“Difficult and rich–this is what a person in an authentic maturation finds at the essence of it all-and it shows–both inside and outside on the person who strives toward it. This we know, there is a noticeable difference between a considered life of depth and one based on phantasmagoric beliefs. On this journey toward “true home”, though we may, from time to time, turn back to record or measure from whence we came, we do not turn back in order to turn back.”
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves~
The first year of homeschooling I had to learn the value of discipline. When I say discipline, I don’t mean figuring out the best way to deal with a child’s unwanted behavior. I mean doing the thing you want to do, whether you feel like doing it or not. This is particularly difficult for a person who thrives on following my heart, whose thinking process follows the line that if I don’t feel like doing it, it isn’t worth doing.
If I don’t see the value, I won’t waste my time. This is why I say I had to learn the value of discipline. I am a person driven not only by what I feel, but also by what I value. Where some people rely on reason to keep their feelings well-ordered, more often than not, what keeps me from being completely ruled by my feelings are my firmly-held values.
One thing I value is time together. The best part about homeschooling for me is the fact that it gives us a chance to be a family. I’ve often told people the best part for me is getting to spend so much time together, which, by and large, has also been the most difficult part. Two b-words are needed in order for family to work: boundaries and basic human decency. This is something I’ve had to accept for myself, to change about myself.
People need space and respect. I am a human being, and human beings need space and respect. It isn’t selfish to set a boundary. This is one of those things I would wish to be aware of if I could go back and do motherhood over: I would respect myself enough to make adjustments and accommodations for the sake of my own needs and limitations.
The Christian mommy blogs refer to this concept as “giving yourself grace”. I definitely needed grace, and on the worst days, I suppose it’s only the grace of God that gets any of us through. But for me, I needed more than grace. I needed God in tangible shape and form. I needed boundaries, something hemming me in, building me up, protecting me from the weaknesses and harms of the self. I needed a class on the right way to live.
Winter quickly is becoming my second favorite season. While Christmas brings the ending to my all-time favorite summer, winter marks the onset of a love I cannot name.
It helps to have the snow.
I could talk about the weather for days if you wanted,
like the time when the hail took our little world by storm.
We called them ice marbles.
Don’t mind me, boys.
I’m just content to watch you play.
Basking in the sunlight of childhood.
sometimes my heart just needs a place to go
where I can lay it down completely bare.
I need to offer myself up to Something, to Someone.
Take my life and let it be
For You, my God, remembered me.
“For you shall be in covenant with the stones of the earth,
and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.”