April 24, 2009

Unexpected Call

The true-story sequel to an earlier post.

"Doodley-doo-doo... doodle, doodle doodle doo..." Cell phone rings.
Some out of state area code. I push the phone away.
A gear catches in my brain, or maybe in my heart.
I reach for the annoying plastic object that seeks to interrupt my life.

"Hey! Remember me?"
Pause. I shift my feet and knit my eyebrows, reaching for another fork to wash.
"Help me remember... where did we meet?"
"It's Talina! Don't you remember?" Her voice sounds tired.
Memories flood back. I drop the fork.
"Talina, this is a different number. Are you still in Washington?"
"No, I'm down here in Arizona now."

I want to ask about the baby, but I'm scared. In Washington state abortions are legal beyond the first trimester. I know she changed her mind after that first phone call, but I know she may have changed her mind again. Pregnancy swirls emotions into a confusing heap, after all. I know her husband divorced her after he found out she was expecting. I know she wanted to be a nurse, and thought a baby would change her plans. I know she had trouble finding a roommate, and had to move three times in three months. What I don't know is what has happened in the six months between then and now.

"Guess what?"
"What, Talina?"
"I had the baby last week!"
"I'm so excited for you! Was it a little boy, like you wanted?"
"Nope. A girl. And she's beautiful. I just want to look at her all day long."
I hear about her barely-made-it-to-the-hospital birth story. I hear about her mom's sweet obsession with her first granddaughter. I hear about her sleepless nights and sleepy days.

At the end of our chat, my little phone receives a picture text message. In the picture is a tiny girl with dark, curly hair. Her white dress and trusting brown eyes capture me.

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15.

Now I know the rest of the story. But I suppose this is not the rest. It is only the beginning.

April 19, 2009

Two Bright Shades of the Same Color

Her “good morning” lit up every one of their already joyful faces.

They’d come trundling in with their backpacks by ones and twosies, filing into the classroom and going directly to their wall spaces to put their lunches up, then sit down in their seats.

Watching them talk animatedly, she smiled.

Innocence could not be duplicated.

“Teacher, teacher, look!”

The words always preceded a marvel; a captivating accomplishment of either God or mankind that demanded full and undivided attention.

Bending a knee, taking a seat, walking over to them with her skirt swishing silently taking naturally feminine footsteps to make the conversation more sincere, she met every child at their level and brought them up to where they should be.

“Wow, look at that! You drew that? Did you have any help?”

Her eyes sparkled teasingly.

“Nope. I did it all by myself. Brandon, he’s my older brother…”

“I know Brandon. I met him, remember?”

“Oh yeah! Um…Brandon, uh, he helped hold the paper some while I drew it, but I didn’t trace it. I just drew it…all by myself.”

“It’s really pretty. I like the colors you chose. They remind me of Easter. Did you do Easter with your family on Sunday?”

She paused briefly to turn away for a moment.

“Good morning Michaela!”

No preschooler made it through the doorway unnoticed. Each was as much an individual as any adult, if not more.

“Yep. We hid eggs and Skyped Grandma. She’s in Iowa er…somewhere. See, here’s where I messed up on my paper. I didn’t mean to use purple but I did.”

The embarrassment was genuine.

“So I see. Great job, I like purple, it’s my favorite color!”

“Really? Thanks!”

“Now go find your seat and wait for the pledge.”

Through compassion and an unwavering firmness each year she fought sniffles and coughs, the occasional unreasonable side of parents who could be extremely demanding, and paying her bills.

Each year she fought to stay awake after several hours of inputting grades online with several hours left of work.

She fought her way through the snow early in order to make it in time to greet her pupils as they filed through the door all flushed bright red and bundled up tightly against the cold.

She fought the gossip in the break room.

She fought through any monotony, unpleasant or boring material, and she fought the random rampant bad attitude that fumbled its way into her classroom.

She fought with grace, with beautiful blue-green eyes, and a heart that was absolutely in love with each and every one of her students.

She craved that look in their eyes when they lit up with a sudden understanding the concepts.

Her creative side thrived as songs, posters, field trips, reading aloud, colors, the floor, the table, and each brightly colored child-sized chair all served as tools, outlets for them to learn.

The designer of the first in-flight, unmanned, military aircraft refueler jet.

A filmmaker.

The first person to invent a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus that created 90% recyclable oxygen for longer, deeper dives.

A computer scientist who built the first hard drive based off nano quantum mechanics.

Those and hundreds of others throughout her career grew up to become great things.

Her name was Anna. Some said she was the victim of down-syndrome.

Anna didn’t see it that way.

She had her own personality, her own sharp mind that was on fire with a will to learn just like every other student she wasn’t the same as.

She stood quietly on the outside edge of the playground watching the other children play. Their coordinated games of tag or hide and go seek were not familiar to her, but she was visibly focused and concentrated as she carefully studied their behavior.

After five minutes, which would have been an eternity to any of her peers, she dove into their world. Moments later she was jumping, sliding, laughing and yelling just all the rest of her class.

Maybe she was a little louder.

Not all of the children included her in their activities.

She might’ve tripped a few more times than the rest.

But nothing escaped the pen and hand of her teacher, sitting on a bench silently journaling the activities of the beautiful girl.

By studying the trend of her pupil throughout the year she’d noticed a retreating wait time before Anna played with the other children.

Anna began needing assistance with most simple tasks, but after patience, a healthy dose of frustration and her incredibly strong will, she was walking to the child-sized fountain and filling her own water bottle.

Then she used the restroom completely of her own accord, completing all the necessary tasks with no help.

Most of the time.

And every day as she played on the padded steps, spongy ground, underneath the sun and watchful eye of college interns, her teacher journaled, strategized learning plans and set goals.

Anna learned best through sign language and hands-on games that sent multiple learning sensations to her memory through sight, feel, smell, taste or joy.

So they did math in the gym.

Hula hoops taught Anna how to count to five.

The beanbags inside the hula hoops helped her get to twenty.

She signed she was hungry, she signed she was mad, she signed numbers, her letters, and dozens of words.

Her colors didn’t come to her easily, but when she realized how many places colors could be found in she ran throughout the room pointing out and signing yellow, pink, blue, green, grey,

black…but her most excited unintelligible squeals of happiness came when she found purple.

It was her teacher’s favorite color too.

by Guy 2

c 2009

April 16, 2009

Shocking Seasons

Rainy Season, Dry Season.
Ten Degree difference.
This was the terrarium I thrived in.

My first taste of all four seasons right in a row is in progress... and it's different than I thought it would be.

Seasons evoke stereotypes, right?
Fall = leaves & orange
Winter = snow & Christmas
Spring = flowers & growth
Summer = warmth & sun

During fall, happy woodland creatures busily gather nuts in preparation for their winter hibernation, right? This is what I assumed.
When winter actually arrived though, our squirrels forgot to hibernate. Their pleasantly plump little selves continued foraging, playing in snow, and digging up my daffodil bulbs. They never got any thinner.

Winter contained other surprises too. Do you know what happens when snowmen melt? Their heads fall off. For reals. Cruise suburbia on a warm day following a snowfall and what shalt thou see? Goliaths after the battle. Dozens of them.

Spring is bringing overwhelmingly pink flowers. It's bringing warmer days. And it's also bringing noise. Imagine that... one season being louder than another. Lawnmowers, road construction, neighbors speaking to each other, and birds. I'm sorry birds, for three months I did not realize you were gone. When you came back though, I noticed you were back.

April 10, 2009

The Shadow, the Deadbolt, and the Missing 2 Inches.

The one year old is growing inventive, but in disastrous ways. He knows a) Doors open b) the front door opens to the great outdoors, where live squirrels, raccoons, tree frogs, and funny neighbors.
Fortunately, he is a) too short to reach the deadbolt b) unable to turn the door knob.

This morning, after discovering his shadow and staring at it suspiciously for fifteen minutes, he resolved in his mischievous mind to... open the front door. Tried. Realized that last night's growth did not afford him the extra 2 inches he needs. -Click- -Whirr- -Mind gears in motion- That's it! Something to stand on. Perfect: The inflated $1 bouncy ball Daddy bought him from Wal-mart.
Did not work out so well.

Thankfully, one year old attention span timed out.

Free Us to Think

When we die, we are just that: dead.
Some say this. The Sadducees said it (Matthew 22:23)
This is logical if you know neither the Word, nor the Power of God (Matthew 22:29).

Jesus simply said, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:32) God does not want his children dead. The dead do not celebrate, do not relate, do not rejoice.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian imprisoned during World War II for his part in an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, penned these words from prison on Easter day, 1943, "Good Friday and Easter free us to think about other things far beyond our own personal fate, about the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and events; and we lay hold of a great hope."* Bonhoeffer died less than two years later, hung in a Gestapo prison.

The faith of Bonhoeffer, our strange faith, is based in these three days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Death, Emptiness, Shocking Life (1 Corinthians 15:12-21). In these strong verses, I rejoice (1 Corinthians 15:50-56).

*"Letters and Papers from Prison" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Edited by Eberhard Bethge.

April 7, 2009

This Week, So Many Centuries Ago

The darling of the highest court died
While his father looked on and cried
Tears of blood to match the pain
That flowed from wounds like crimson rain

An aged earth deformed with war
Took out her anger on her lord
Fixed his son to a cruel machine
And mocked the one and only king

"He saved others; He cannot save himself."
They laughed and promised to believe
They asked for one last show
He hung nine hours
Then died

He was foreign to wrong, a perfect man
Yet the marks of sin were on his hands
He had seen the world in all her shame
But loved her enough to take the blame

The light of love shone down, even on
The dark side of earth, a glorious dawn
To color the fading earth once more