Yesterday Mike took a little time off work. In the hours between picking up Anders from morning Kindergarten and the rest of the kids from regular old all-day school, we stuck socks and shoes on the four youngest, packed diapers and a bottle, and went off exploring a bit. It was gray and raining off and on. We drove and drove – talking about our future and things we might or might not want in it: some of it actual possibilities; some of it only dreams; some of it logistics and worries and what ifs. We spotted a rainbow then pulled over to tromp around a bit. The sun filtered through the clouds – sending down a big, triangle of celestial streaks in the distance. It was much colder than I’d realized. Mike bundled Hans in his arms. Anders, Summer and Mette cried that it was too cold, lost the use of their legs, and begged to be held. And, glad that he’d thought to bring it for me, I threw on Mike’s old Carhartt coat (like I used to always do when going out to feed the chickens and horses at our old Fruitland Drive house) and tried to take a few pictures (between lifting babies, holding little hands, and rescuing kids from falls into little mucky ditches).
Mike bought that old Carhartt coat back when he worked construction before we were married (we still always point out to the kids the columns he put in at our local grocery store).
I wrote a poem once about the way Mike says “construction”. I don’t remember much of it. Maybe it was sentimental. Or maybe simple and seemingly void. There was something about him speaking Spanish and it sounding like a song. And something about seeing that word – construction – on a truck door. I do remember this part:
“Carson’s Construction” it read.
And I thought of you
and saw that you
say it differently.
I invited him to come carve pumpkins once – early in our dating. It was raining as he drove to my house. He swerved to miss a raccoon. Ended up smashed against a tree and unsure of his name. Days later I went with him to retrieve his Carhartt from the remains of his beloved Bronco. It had been sitting on the passenger seat and was wedged between upholstery and crushed metal. He’d had batteries in the coat’s pocket and their acid burnt holes through it.
Maybe I should write a poem about that? And about wearing that same coat now? In a cold, grassy field with the eighth of our nine children in my arms. Hm. It doesn’t seem like an easy thing to make into a poem. But the feeling. It’s a sort of poetry.
I have felt so stretched lately. Pulled thin. A hundred mountains a day to climb and – even with all my ability and focus – only ever able to crest the hill of one or two. I ponder so much over the meaning and purpose in us always having more than we can actually do . . . that does need done; about things that should be “poetry” and beauty – that truly ARE poetry and beauty – playing out in such muddled and messy ways. I sense some design in it. It’s there. It’s there. The beauty and purpose in the exhausting and ordinary and ceaseless demands. It’s hidden a bit. I often feel like I’m just about to catch a thought about it – a light in my mind as to the necessity of life being this way. Sometimes I do catch it. For a moment. And all the frustration, and undoneness, and feelings of failure vanish. I see it. And feel breathless. We’re all a bunch of Gideons . . . our armies reduced impossibly small –- fighting our own daily host of Midianites. Sometimes so caught up in the details of the battle that we hardly realize that we are, in fact, winning. Gloriously. Our tiny armies aided by someone who makes them far far more than enough.
Mette has been so full of demands of late. So much crying. So much she wants now that her tiny two-year-old self can’t yet do. Such a big spirit and such tremendously large hopes and emotions trying to fit in such a tiny, little body that has to patiently grow into the capabilities she so much wants to be ready for. But yesterday, not long after a 40 minute bout of tears and tantruming over her car seat not having been buckled in the exact manner she would have most preferred, Mette sat with me -- looking at these pictures from our afternoon adventure. She pointed happily to the both of us and said, “Mama and Mettee!” And then, speaking to herself as she looked at them closer she added with such utter, doubtless certainty: “She loves me. Sooo much.”
And there it was again. All the hard replaced with one overarching moment of complete light and truth. Somehow, in that comment, was the whole entire meaning of everything.