ROOTS AND LEAVES, FRUITS AND NUTS

IMG_1522By Lisa Huddleston

 

The dry leaves gather in the corners around my house, up against the garage doors, under the porch and patio furniture, and across the driveway that was finally completed just this past summer. Although there are still cheerful pumpkins on our porches, it is nearly time to throw them in the garden as seed for next year’s crop. In just a week, much of the family will gather here for Thanksgiving dinner, and in the days after that, green and red will replace the warm browns and golds of Autumn.

 

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And like the seasons, our family tree also shows its own circles of growth. This year I am thankful for the older generation, Granddaddy and Gran and Grammy Sue, who will be here to root us to the past with rich memories and treasured stories of those who have already passed away and provide rich soil for our tree. I am also thankful for the new nests that have been carefully tucked into our branches through marriages, new relationships, and for the saplings of new family units. And I am especially thankful for the man who has been my solid, tree trunk for 29 years standing firm through all the seasons we have weathered. In just another few blinks, I know it will be our turn to root this tree. Not yet, but very soon, and then now — we will see the spring blossoms of the next generation and rejoice in the blessing of own grandchildren (probably fruits and nuts like the rest of us!)

But today there are dry leaves around my feet, reminders of this most recent summer and its rich blessings. And I am thankful.

MAKING ROOM FOR TODAY

A spacious place.

A spacious place.

By Lisa Huddleston

In my last post I confidently wrote about “finding my fit” in a religious community. Today I am laughing at my assertions that one can really do that, and I find myself eating at least a few of my words for this Monday’s breakfast. The quandary I face is that we live in a part of the country that we truly love. It is beautiful, peaceful, rural, and a place of history for my family and friends. We have spent many years making this home a comfortable nest where our children can one day bring their children, and everyone has a seat around the table. Three of our four parents also live here on this farm, and we are blessed by a warm generational sandwich that would not be as easy to enjoy in another location. But it is not really a perfect fit.

For many years we have struggled with loving our life in the country and longing for the diversity of the city–a situation that I fear would simply be reversed were we to physically move. So instead of tearing ourselves out of our nest, we have tried to live with our feet in two worlds. This effort has been easier for my husband, because he happens to work in the same world in which we are now worshiping; but, for me, this straddling has been a difficult proposition. I miss having a strong sense of religious community around me. I miss plugging in during the week in Bible studies and service. I miss Wednesday night suppers and choir rehearsals even while I love and need the stimulation of a verse-by-verse study on Sunday mornings and deeply considered discussion in Thursday night home group meetings. It is a hard thing for me as for the gazillionth time I find myself pondering what the church is and should be (a community in which to worship, to be fed, to feed others, and so on)–a question I fear I will never adequately be able to answer for myself.

Room at the table.

Room at the table.

And so, for now, my fit is less “off the rack” and more “custom made.” One foot in the homeplace I love, and one in the spacious, some ways less, some ways more, comfortable place of the nondenominational church we have been driving so far to be a part of for more than two years. I know this will not always be a situation that will work, and I struggle with the lack of permanence I feel. But at 52, I have learned that no season lasts forever, and I am striving to exist in the present day more and letting tomorrow worry about itself. For now, there is enough room in my life for both worlds–just as there is enough room around my dining room table for both new and old friends, my growing family, and the changes the future will bring.

HURRY UP AND WAIT

Waiting ...

Waiting …

By Lisa Huddleston

Since my mother has lived with us I’ve been spending more time than usual in waiting rooms. This morning was another opportunity to practice waiting as I shivered in my cold seat balancing my coffee cup on my knee while she had to undergo a diagnostic procedure—the one we all dread for its preparation more than the actual event. Yeah, you know which one I mean. (Poor thing!)

Anyway, I had downloaded a book by my latest favorite author on my Nook tablet and was ready to fill my time with some good reading, but this was one of those times when I couldn’t get my brain to settle. It would have helped if I had already been into the story, but as it was I just couldn’t focus. People kept coming in and out of the room, the ever-present TV was blaring (soap opera), the receptionist was listening to phone messages on speaker so that the whole room could hear (can anyone say, “HIPPA?”), and the woman next to me answered several phone calls which she carried on at full volume two seats away. I was just a little frustrated—no, way more than a little. I was ANNOYED! (I would generally use another word beginning with P, but I hate to offend you more delicate readers.)

Since I couldn’t read, I pondered (another favorite P word). Somehow, no matter the setting, my brain never fails to be able to ponder. After several random takes, I finally chewed on the idea of the waiting room as a metaphor for life. A waiting room is simply that: a place to sit and wait for your name to be called for the real event that has brought you to the office. But the waiting room is nothing more than a holding tank, and I certainly hope that’s not all our 80 some years on earth are about. Just waiting? Some would say Heaven is the main event, the “BIG DEAL” we’re waiting for, and that should make the waiting worth it. But I really hope that life is the main event or at least that it’s the first act of the play or the prelude or something like that. Please, let it be more than mindless waiting or I’m afraid that I really will go nuts.

The other day I sarcastically remarked to my husband that I was just filling my days with stuff to do while waiting around to die. Harsh, I know. But this is a season that really doesn’t seem to be holding my attention very well. Oh there are distractions for sure—some very entertaining like my book but others are really terribly annoying and there are days when I feel like screaming, “Let’s get this show on the road, God!”

So … anyway … I’m still pondering as I wait for the peach pie I just put in the oven to bake and listen to Jack Johnson sing through the kitchen’s Bose. At least home-grown peaches and sugary pie crust are a pleasant distraction. Heck, maybe delicious, homemade pies really are the main event. Who knows? Peach pie as the meaning of life! But, if not, I sure hope I don’t miss my name when it’s called. I’ll be the one with sticky lips and a frown.