“Mama, when are we going home?” he whispered, his eyes glued to the car window. I didn’t know how to answer him. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go home. “You miss being home,” I said as a way of deflection.
“Yes,” my son said, quietly, not averting his gaze. My heart sank. The silence between us grew.
I went to the willows today. And found God. I slipped the long, leafy tendrils in between my fingers. I’d set out for a short hike, hoping to take my mind off my worries before picking up my son, when a field of tall yellow wildflowers yielded to a cluster of willow trees on the bank of a wide pond. A nearby heron sunned itself in the still waters.
I drive past the same man in his drab olive coat. He’s standing on a thin slice of cement in the middle of the road near the entrance to the freeway. He’s a young man with a goatee. In the summer his dark wavy hair brushes against his shoulders. In the winter it’s hidden under his hat. His cardboard sign remains the same: Homeless. Need help. Thanks.
Years ago I attended the first eighth grade graduation for a charter school I helped open. That morning, pressed for time, I raced right past a sea of navy blue caps and gowns flanked with Kente cloth. Everyone was so dressed up, high heels and suits, bow ties and up-dos. I couldn’t believe they were my kids.
“It will show up,” is my standard line after something has gone missing in our home. My favorite baseball cap, my son’s action figure, my cell phone. Some things require a bit more intense intervention, like, well, my phone. But for others, I have learned to stop searching and trust that one day, without any effort at all, we will stumble upon the hidden treasure.
“Ant!” my four-year old son yells as he grabs two empty yogurt containers from a bottom drawer in the kitchen. He turns and runs back to the ant, placing the containers on the floor and trying dutifully to coax the ant into one of them. I taught him how to save ants when we had a massive infestation in my kitchen last spring.
The plants in my home are dying. One by one, their demise is stretching out across the long winter days. I wish I could blame it on the shock of having no heat during a single-digit freeze. But several plants died before that, and three more are dropping leaves as if they are no longer related. My attempts to revitalize them, and dare I add, maybe even bloom, are not working.
I remember my high school lifesaving course more than any other class. The smell of chlorine. The high-paned windows frosted in the winter. The circa 1950 blue and white bathing suit and cap we were required to wear which was rather unflattering in 1986. My all-girls high school mandated that we take swimming for three of our four years. Why I chose lifesaving my junior year, I really don’t know.
“We have no available rooms,” the hotel manager told me. It was 3 a.m. My college friend and I were road-tripping from Minneapolis to Houston where I was going to teach second grade. Michele convinced me it’d be more fun to take the back roads, and so we were somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma.
In honor of our third anniversary as a family this November, I offer this reflection again. This was the first of four trips I made to Haiti during our adoption process. When I look at my now lanky, soon-to-be six-year-old son, I marvel at the mystery of the divine and the myriad ways in which grace brings who and what we need into our lives.