~:: Winter Interlude ::~

It’s the middle of January.  In this hemisphere, that means we are in the thick of winter, buried in snow, crusted with hoar frost.

But not this year.  Yesterday, I bundled up and went out to the barn to watch Geneva work with Rachel and Hickory.  Standing in the arena with the bright sun on us, I realized that I wanted to take my jacket off.  And my muffler.  And my gloves.  It was fifty four degrees.  When I got home, my young buddy across the street drove up in his brand new used Pontiac Solaris.  It was gorgeous – a rag-top convertible. Grinning, he put the top down, his mom in the passenger seat, and off they went, wind in their hair.

I finally opened the living room window, just to get that lovely spring feeling in the house.

Are you kidding?  Can this weather be anything but a little too good?  And I’ve been taught all  my life never to trust anything that’s too good—it’s just wise.  Sad, huh?

Now, I’m trying to fight off the myriad viruses my children have contributed to us in the last few weeks.  I just watched Music and the Spoken Word, the Tabernacle Choir broadcast.  The Martin Luther King concert.  Beautiful.  Just beautiful.  And after that, heard the story of the New Zelander women’s world champion squash champ.  It will be fifty degrees again today.  The kids will come over later for dinner—maybe I can give them back some of these nice little bugs they leant me.

This entry isn’t really about anything. And there are no pictures.  I’ve been too busy with editing books and scanning the photo books.  But in my head are the pictures of my lovely little horse, my beaming young friend, my delighted dogs rocketing across the dry yard, and the faces of my beautiful sons and daughters.

Maybe winter will come next week.

I’m thinking about Martin Luther King. About how he has been just another hero with clay feet. It was disappointing to hear about his womanizing; that behavior was in such opposition to his message and to the place he took in the world.  But this morning, as I was listening to the broadcast, I actually starting thinking about all that (as opposed to just rolling with the tales)—I mean, I didn’t know the man.  I don’t know all those negative things by experience, or even by credible report. But even if the reports are true, and it’s entirely possible that they are, none of it changes the work he did, the chances he took, the effect he had on the world.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t be accountable for the choices we make, or for the fact that we can weaken our cause when our lives don’t measure up to our mission. But all this makes me ponder on the great deal of work it takes to be a good human. It seems almost impossible for us to be entirely integral. Like, all our parts are always at war with one another, love and self, rest and guilt, honesty and survival.  It’s like we can never be good without being haunted with our flaws.

So, I guess, the triumph is to do the most good we can—to stand for what is true and good and healthy and loving.  To do our work the best we can.  And also—to practice mercy.  Making place for that inside ourselves, understanding that we are all striving for balance and that there is  not a single human being who is perfect.  The operative word in that last sentence is striving, though. Mercy can’t validate our imperfect choices.  But it can allow us to draw strength from the good human beings do.  And to honor the good we have done ourselves.

I am so thankful for the men and women who put themselves out there, who try so hard to bring more light into the world, even in the face of personal danger, of mockery, of personal exposure.  Dr. King saved a lot of lives. And even now, the fact of his life makes us stop and think and want to be better.  So, bless his heart.  I am grateful to him.

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31 Responses to ~:: Winter Interlude ::~

  1. Rachel says:

    I should have a thoughtful response to this post but the only thing going through my mind is I got super early for church meetings, I am home now getting little ones ready for church (kids in tub) and I’ll be returning back to church with the family in about an hour. What I want to do is take off my Sunday clothes, crawl back in bed with a really good book, and not resurface until I feel some spunk in my step again. I’m just so dang tired!

    In some ways……. maybe this means a bit what you are talking about. It sure would have been easy to sleep in…… it sure would be easy to skip church and continue to laze around…….. but I’m going……. because I know that is where I’m supposed to be and where my kids need to be so maybe with all of my many faults…. the Lord will look upon my heart and know that I really am trying and I really am striving to do what is right. Even though I’m a little rough around the edges……

    I wish I could have stayed and worked/rode Hickory more. It was such a gorgeous day. A day made for a good long ride!

    • webmaster says:

      Yes. And if it weren’t Sunday, we could ride today.

      But I have this to say to you, if God did not see in you one of the most precious daughters he has ever had, then he is blind. And he is anything but blind.

      Remember: “He maketh me to lie down beside the still waters.” Do not push him so far that he has to do that. Saying “no” to duty is sometimes just as important as saying “yes” when we are only reluctant (not exhausted).

      • Rachel says:

        I’m learning this. I just had a good talk with my mom this morning on Skype. To rest and not feel guilty. To be given permission…… that is a beautiful thing because even if my body is ‘resting’ my mind isn’t… that whole guilt thing …. to be at peace is huge. The peace of mind that only God can give…… that is true rest.

        • webmaster says:

          And I can’t give you permission. This is true because: you are better than I am, and it would be a little like the devil smiling and saying, “Sure. Lie down.” And because I am not your mama. My girls often over the years will call and say, “Give me permission.” I have ORDERED you, and you don’t listen, you little hoyden. Resting is part of maturity. To know what you really need, when you need it and take it without guilt. And it’s a good thing I did it yesterday, because I ended up having a little fever. Today, I’m just down in the dumps and my head hurts a little. Look outside: a gift – the Lord saying, “Curl up quietly and let it go.”

          • Rachel says:

            Oh good grief! I am not better than you!!! :) I’ve done the same thing with my mom. Just give me permission!!! But even she can’t…….. the permission has to come from God. That is what I mean when I say true peace because it comes from God letting me know that it is okay to rest and to be at peace while resting. Does this make any sense??

            • webmaster says:

              Yes you are. And you can’t hear the permission if you are listening instead to your own craziness. The voice of guilt is loud. When it’s appropriate, that’s a good thing. When it’s not, it’s just somebody trying to confuse you. This is what I believe, anyway.

            • Rachel says:

              Well yeah because Satan is totally good at playing the guilt card……… And I’m a pro at picking it up!

            • webmaster says:

              That’s why we’d make such wretched bridge partners.

  2. Ginger says:

    “Rough around the edges ” would fit for many of us. Still, there IS mercy. I’m hoping for a large dose.

    • webmaster says:

      Just refer the Eternal Judgement committee to me, dear one. I’m very good at recommendations when I feel them. Yours would be a piece of cake.

  3. Dawn says:

    I had a hard time dealing with that news about Dr. MLK when I first learned of his womanizing. But I came to the same conclusion that you stated in my own mind, after I thought about it for a bit.
    We have had a crazy warm dry winter here in Seattle too, until today. ; ) Now it’s a blizzard! Our first snow of the season. The kids are do excited. It’s really very beautiful at this point. It may be headed your way next!

    • webmaster says:

      We hope so. If we don’t get snow soon, there will be either drought – or too much snow too late can mean flood. What a world we live in – never a dull moment. I wish great people could be great all the way through. But then, it would leave the rest of us so far behind –

      loves, Dawn

  4. Donna says:

    You have to be the best you can be and do the best you can do as often as you can and fall on mercy when you mess up. But, you can’t let the fear of messing up keep you quiet and passive. I saw on FB the other day a post that was denigrating young Mr. Tebow about his spiritual beliefs and saying that they couldn’t wait for the fall that they were sure was coming to him. And maybe it will, but in the meantime, God bless his faith.
    Being a teacher, and I would imagine a parent, requires you to take action, lots of action. Hopefully you have had the time to think through the plan of action you are taking, but sometimes it comes too fast and you just have to do your best. And sometimes no matter how much you thought you had it planned out, it goes wrong. Recognize it and fix it…determine to learn from the mistake and move on. It’s OK.
    And we are having a non-traditional winter here, too. It has been bitterly cold for a few days, with a little snow (3-5 inches) but tomorrow it is to be in the 40s again. I’m missing our winter…but haven’t given up hope yet.

    • webmaster says:

      G was telling me last night about young Tebow. People who have no use for religion get uncomfortable when someone is open about their view of the universe. A simple mention of Christ can be enough to be called “wearing your religion on your sleeve,” as though it is only polite to keep your beliefs to yourself, and rude to do otherwise. And when people feel that way, they react as though you are being self-righteous, and they hope for a fall so that they can prove you wrong, and thus prove themselves safe from worrying about the constraints your belief puts on you. As in, being grateful to God, staying out of other people’s beds, telling the truth, putting love before profit, playing fair, working your hardest and avoiding politics. It’s sad for them. How sad, to wish someone else ill, hoping they will suffer a fall from success and grace.

      I agree about doing your best. Even the terrible breaking of moral and ethical law can be a strange, one time insanity. The truth is that we cannot know what other people have suffered, are suffering. And sometimes we don’t understand ourselves. But to do the best we can, correcting the damage as we go, the very best we can – what else can we do?

      Maybe snow tomorrow. Maybe. If it only fell in the mountains, that would be good enough.

  5. w-s w says:

    Yes, this winterlude is odd. Those photos of ES feeding the horses, standing in the snow with his hoody on – he could have just as comfortably been in his t-shirt. It was THAT warm. I had dreams that night about walking barefoot in the snow.

    One of the biggest disappointments in my tender teen years was the discovery that people are human.

    But, yes – striving…

    • webmaster says:

      Today, it was much the same – but the sky was more lowering. The wind came up a few hours ago, but it’s gone now. And there doesn’t seem to be a huge change in the weather out there. Dreams about walking barefoot in the snow. Such a mystical thing. My dreams? That i had planned an intimate family road trip, only to find the car full of hispanic female inlaws (I don’t actually have any) who were all excited and loud and with their own plans – in a minivan full to the gills. It was like trying to keep puppies in a box. And I was so sad because I’d just wanted to be with the six of us. Very mixed up. Out of control. But the fact is that there are nine of us now, and none of them are loud, excited and chaotic, if they do all have their own plans. Where do dreams come from? G dreamed about having to back up a horse trailer and banging against the neighbors’ alum siding over and over. Our lives?

      People are human and life doesn’t follow the rules of narration.

  6. del says:

    Thanks so much for bringing that up about MLK because I struggled with that info, too. But you’re right and you present a great perspective about the whole thing. We are, all of us, just human.

    • webmaster says:

      I think that we expect ourselves to be perfect. But that’s a funny word. “Be ye therefore perfect -.” We set our expectations of ourselves through words. Laws, scriptures, philosophy – but words are relative things, changing over time. So when I want to think about a concept, I go to the etymology of the word, to see what job it was born to do, what it was used to mean at the time of the writing. If you look at these “definitions” of perfect, a different picture comes through – not to be confused with “absolutely emotionally mature,” or “clean house,” or “in control” or “flawless”:

      obsolete : mature
      : of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or verbal that expresses an action or state completed at the time of speaking or at a time spoken of
      a. certain, sure
      b. contented, satisfied
      of a musical interval : belonging to the consonances unison, fourth, fifth, and octave which retain their character when inverted and when raised or lowered by a half step become augmented or diminished

      early 13c., from O.Fr. parfit (11c.), from L. perfectus “completed,” pp. of perficere “accomplish, finish, complete,” from per- “completely” + facere “to perform”. Often used in English as an intensive (perfect stranger, etc.). The verb meaning “to bring to full development” is recorded from late 14c. Related: Perfected; perfecting.

      From middle English, drawn from Old French roots, first from Latin. The parts: per – (through, thorough) facere (to make, to do)

      We’re all in process. And if we are earnestly working at becoming good people, then we fit. I think.

  7. Rachel says:

    I had an ah-ha moment yesterday at church. We were teaching the young women about being perfect and what that means. The thought came to me, before we came to earth…… we made mistakes! We weren’t perfect! We had our free agency. We learned and we grew as best we could without a body and the experiences we’d have here on earth. We were like a child before turning 8. We made mistakes but weren’t held accountable. (Delving into LDS doctrine here.) For some reason…….. I think a lot of us get caught up into thinking that we somehow have to smash ourselves into this lifetime here on earth and figure it all out so that when we die we have reached the level of perfection. It can’t be done! Maybe I’m the only one that does this……. I’m my own worst task master. I have to have something done by a certain time or have reached a level at this date and time! By the time I die I should be perfect and have it all figured out. Not really but kind of!! Eternity is a long time! We’ve got eternity to figure this out! We’re here with our bodies gaining knowledge and experience that we will continue to use as we reach perfection in the ETERNITIES! It’s not a race! Why in the world do I always grab things in this life like it is a race……….. why can I not wrap my brain around slow and steady…….. why do I set such expectations for myself? I certainly don’t for anyone else!!! So, I appreciated this ah hah moment. The journey continues. I don’t have to have my paper done before the bell rings as long as I keep writing my paper and going back and correcting my mistakes before I move onto the next paragraph.

    • webmaster says:

      Yeah. Exactly. And that’s what I said in some comment in the last couple of days: I live like I’m always late for something. I need to hand it in. I need to get it finished before I have to leave (and where am I going, pray tell?). I am always late in my head. It’s ridiculous.

  8. Rachel says:

    Exactly. So take your own advice and slow down.

  9. Chelsea says:

    Well said. I haven’t heard anything about Dr. King’s womanizing, but for the reasons you’ve stated… I don’t much care.

    • webmaster says:

      It’s interesting. In some cases, knowing something like this WOULD change things. Like, if I were considering doing business with somebody and I found out he was cheating on his wife, it would have an impact on my decision. Like, why would I trust him after that? But in this case, his philosophy and his very real courage (unless it was simple, stupid idealism) in defying the threats and carrying his beautiful message to public venues – whether or not his life was perfectly moral makes no difference. What he said was right. What he did was brave. His impact on the community was immeasurable. He bent the social vector in ways that were deeply important. His private life tarnishes him as a person, but does not change the fact of his accomplishment.

      This becomes an interesting question: do you throw the baby out with the bath water? Can you tolerate feet of clay in your Great Men? Should you? Then again, the question – and this is biblical, dear one – should you cast the first stone? I wouldn’t have let my daughter be his intern, I’ll tell you that. But I’d read his Dream Speech to my children.

      Life is a complex proposition. Every moment a weighing, a choosing, a gathering up or a dropping. The ends don’t justify evil/weak/cruel/shortsighted/ means. But human flaws cannot be the end of our understanding. An easy test, mortality – ummm. Not so much.

  10. Oh I do agree. We have to be so careful if we are not to tarnish the good work we are doing… yet we are none of us completely polished. God blessed his work… God bless my work.

    I’m tired Kristen. Life just keeps you flying even when your wings are tired… Today the girls are going to be gone all day, and of course hubby is at work and I actually have some time to relax and get caught up. At least somewhat. It’s good to be back here. ;)

    Blessings, Debbie

    • webmaster says:

      I have been so tired this week, for days, I did not do much more than sit on the couch and read in my pjs. This is not normal. I can tell that I am off by my willingness to hold still. And Rachel – finally admitted that she had to stay in bed, at least for a morning or two. I’m wondering what about the time might draw us all together in this feeling of weariness. Maybe just the end of the holidays and subsequent clean up. Maybe facing a new year, both glorious because it is so open, so many possibilities an plans – but terrifying for the same reasons. I’m pulling myself together now, but only after that several days of physical pause.

      Still, it is so good to have you back.

  11. Murphy Randle says:

    It repeatedly seems true to me that people are capable of creating things that are better than themselves. There are some songs that I listen to, and I have to separate them from the artist entirely, because the song means something to me, and I don’t understand how the artist could produce something so good and meaningful, when they are living as they are.

    Guess what, it snowed!

    • webmaster says:

      I know – and there are actors in movies whose parts teach deep and remarkable things, but the actor him or herself seems to walk away from the lesson completely untouched by it. YES IT DID SNOW. And I think WINTERLUDE would have been superb. Clever boy. See? I made something way better than myself.

  12. Murphy Randle says:

    Also, I think this should have been titled “Winterlude”.

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