Mother

My mother is the warmest, most comforting, favourite and familiar book, read in front of a fire on a frosty June-winter eve…all steaming with hot drinks and feasting treats and sparkling light. That is her atmosphere. She is golden sun breaking on a cloudy coastal day, soft on your back but all dazzling in your laughing eyes.

Visits with her rightly involve clamouring children sharing her love, but her phone calls are like prayer: blessed, one-on-one intimacy, all private and sure. It’s like Jesus’ crowded celebrity during His time on earth, compared with the Holy Spirit now indwelling.

Thank You, Father of all mothers: that when I cry, literally (and aloud, some days) to You…she is the answer You so very often send. That among all the authors and teachers and speakers and writers from whom I love to learn…this woman above all, who hears You and obeys You and is a real human being with flesh on in my life, is not only my neighbour but my mother.

She encourages us to thank and praise, and so we do it: we circle around the music and we sing it loud.

We mean it.

We believe it.

And we thank You for her.

“Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” (George Eliot, Middlemarch)

20160609-225654.jpg
Gustav Klimt

Of Fractures and Fractions and Family Trees

20140709-162526.jpg

It is only now, almost 3 weeks after the hurt, that I recognize it as an answer to prayer.
Her pain has been severe enough, prolonged enough, that her exhaustion means she can no longer hold down the pain that comes bubbling up from underneath it, from long ago.
The sobs begin as a valve venting the physical ache, but as they gain momentum they are stops open and pipes roaring glorious organic truth, the beautiful mess of a young life lived: and they are no longer voicing a bodily broken bone but a fractured heart.
And as she moans it I see that my child’s pain is but a fraction of the fracture I have felt in that same fibia – the leg limping on a rug pulled out from under, and trying to make a stance that will be on solid ground.
She misses the childhood place, the soul’s connection, the loss of which she has not – till now – realized I have felt and mourned a hundredfold.
She sees it now, humble, compassionate; she hears an empathy in my voice and I see her mind curtsey gracious to it, elegant child that she is. She hears my heart speak through the moan that will not quite escape through this tightened throat, under the princess castle gauze of her mosquito net hung duskly.
Oh, my child, how thankful I am that this is all He is asking you – me – to give up! Of all that He could require for relinquishing… Only this? Praise Him.
And yet I acknowledge the pain. It is a grieving for a dying and He never promised it would not come to this. He only promised it would be worth it. He simply invites, ‘Follow Me.’
And those disciples, they dropped nets and they stepped into the shallows and didn’t turn back, not even when the shallows became depths which threatened to engulf. Then they walked on that water, overcomers, not undergoers. They followed Him, leaving EVERYTHING, and when they knew Him they knew that He. Is. Worth It.
Oh, dear heart, sweet child of mine, the ounce of pain in your eyes? It is an answer to my prayer. I knew it when I prayed it that it was a danger to you and to me, but I asked Him to do what it took to let you know Him and His worth. Gentle, gracious Father – that this is ALL it is: Thank You.
Oh Lord, don’t let it be wasted.
Bring her near now to Yourself.
I love her.
I love You.
Thank You that You knit her heart just like You knit her bone, and both of them together in my womb.
Thank You for showing me a fraction of the feel – of the Father’s hundredfold sacrifice mirrored in the child’s hundredth eyes.
God of Generations, God of recompense; pay it back now a hundredfold!
Glory to You now in the church and in the Tree.
In Jesus’ Name.
Amen.

Evergreen

We woke at 3:07am on Saturday morning to a resounding crash. It was the creaking groan of a breaking bough and the splintering fall of timber. Adrenalin quivered in my fingertips as the needles shook on the ends of their own spindly limbs.

20140215-151015.jpg

20140215-151033.jpg

20140215-151043.jpg
The tree stood all ragamuffin at the corner of the verandah, and the french doors were open for any minstrel of a breeze. February means hot summer nights on this antipodean farm.

February also means a new school year for us, so Saturday afternoon finds me in the study, reading about poetry and history and art… (We study history like a multi-stranded rope, snipping it open at a given point and investigating some variegated threads: literature and music and science and language and art and technology and ideas, all woven into one spectacular, linear story…).

This season we’ve selected the thread of our own family history: a familiar strand for the littlest students in our home to grasp, while we introduce them to the foreign, to the further afield… And so family stories and photos and timelines are spread out over the study table, for the fleshing out of a paper family tree.

20140215-163446.jpg

20140215-163506.jpg

20140215-163514.jpg

20140215-163521.jpg

20140215-163529.jpg

20140215-165900.jpg

20140215-165909.jpg

&lt

If history is a story – and the universe, as Aristotle said, requires a beginning, a middle and an end… then it follows that history has an Author. And an Author who transcends but writes Himself into His own story: that is the golden thread running through the centre of the rope, from ‘In the beginning’ to ‘Amen’.

So we study His Words, and discover what He has to say about the parts of the story to which we’ve turned.

In this case: a Family Tree.

One might be forgiven for expecting a list of unpronounceable ‘begats’… But instead it is the words of an ancient prophet which speak the Author’s heart and thrill my mother’s soul:

20140215-220814.jpg
I had written it in gold on the study window…

George Macdonald has defined art as “the revelation of the true through the beautiful”, and it is not until I see the fallen tree branch through the chalked study window that I recognise it as art: Truth and Beauty superimposed.

20140215-221233.jpg

20140215-221243.jpg

20140215-221250.jpg

“They will be called Oaks of Righteousness…”

This, this is our charge. Entrusted with acorns: to raise strong saplings.

20140215-223250.jpg
To so nurture the branch of a family tree in our home that when drought comes, its roots are deep and it knows where to find the Source that will quench desperate thirst.

To train its leanings in this short growing season in such a way that when the time comes, its timber will be strong and ready for use…

20140215-223632.jpg

20140215-224745.jpg

20140215-224821.jpg