Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wendell Berry Love

Oh, how we love us some Wendell Berry around here.
Oh, how his words ease the days.

This is my favorite of his poems--the first time Justin read it to me, I wept. I still cannot get past the part about "the forest that you did not plant" without my eyes brimming with tears. Especially when I see my five little oak trees running out in the field.

...and don't get me started about the line referring to the woman about to give birth...

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grab Bag: Laundry Baseball

First of all, let me say thank you for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. I have been so touched by the way that many of you have contacted me and shared your common experiences; depression can be a messy thing to talk about, but it is wonderfully comforting to know that there are other sojourners on the road. So thank you!

And now, onto something lighter. I mentioned some time ago in my Alignment post that I have a little "grab bag" (for lack of a better term) of things that I use to *attempt* to manage my life. I thought it might be fun to share a few of these things from time to time---simply because I am nosy and like seeing what other people are doing that works, ha! So I'll let you take a little peek into my home. And if you like, you can join in the conversation and add your own Grab Bag ideas, and I will come peek at yours, too!

So here is Laundry Baseball--an invention that came about in our old house, when my laundry system was completely unmanageable. Our old house had STEEP stairs into the basement--and in the basement was the boys' bedroom, their playroom, and my laundry room. And I NEVER went down there. Meaning--as you well can imagine--that their room and playroom was a Pit Of Despair and that my laundry was perpetually overflowing. Occasionally I would go into a whirlwind and wash a ton of clothes, but I have this fault of loving to wash & fold, but hating to put away. So the "clean" piles would get knocked over and stepped on and put back into the dirty, and the laundry room would continue to overflow, and it was a sad, sad cycle. Enter: Laundry Baseball.

Laundry Baseball is a way of dealing with laundry when you have multiple loads of clean clothes that are in Grave Danger of being attacked by the one-year-old and strewn all over the house...and this is how it goes...

1) The Pitcher (aka Mama) clears off a large, clear, clean space in the middle of the living room.
2) The Pitcher gathers up every stitch of clean laundry and DUMPS it in one spot--a pile on the carpet, the couch, whatever suits her.
3) The Pitcher yells: "LAUNDRY BASEBALL!" at the top of her lungs and children come skidding from every corner of the house (this is true, I promise you. Even if you have never played and your children have absolutely no idea what Laundry Baseball is).
4) The Pitcher instructs each child to find a place to sit on the afore-described clean floor.
5) The Pitcher explains the game (if necessary).
6) The Pitcher begins pulling items out of the monstrous pile of laundry, one at a time. Any item that belongs to The Pitcher, The Pitcher's spouse (unless spouse is playing), The Pitcher's baby, and the Pitcher's linen closet get dropped into a pile on the other side of The Pitcher. Any item belonging to a child over the age of 18 mos. gets hurled at said child at top speed, while The Pitcher simultaneously shouts the child's name.
7) Children giggle uncontrollably as they try desperately to snatch their laundry items out of the air (and avoid getting beaned in the face).
8) Children drop each item of their personal laundry into a pile next to them and continue to listen for their name to be called.
9) The Pitcher continues through the laundry mountain, trying to catch each child unaware (to solicit more explosive giggling).
10). Children inevitably begin to devise their own "point" system (1 point for each caught item, 0 points for each missed item) so that there can be a "winner" and a "goal".
11). At the elimination of the laundry mountain, begin Phase II: Each player folds their own items and puts them away. Older players and The Pitcher help the younger players after completing their respective piles.
12). Breathe a sigh of relief that the clean laundry is finally caught up and Out Of Danger.
13). Be prepared for future requests for Laundry Baseball!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The View From Here

I had the sudden thought recently that maybe I have just been depressed for the past year.

It has been such a crazy, crazy year--last February we began the process of applying for a loan and looking for a house (with all the chaos and stress that entails) summer Justin had lost his job and we were juggling all of the house stuff while simultaneously hoping our work situation wouldn't cause us to lose our loan...he began picking up work in Seattle to help slow the dwindling of our savings account and then I was juggling the house/loan/money/moving/kid stuff on my own...we found Snake Hill and found in love with it and struggled with the details of watching it come to fruition (see earlier post) in addition to everything September I discovered I was pregnant right when Justin was trying to finish up his work in grandmother was dying...I was trying to manage the house on my own and still get some boxes packed every day while battling first trimester fatigue...we got the house and started our long, painful move with the holidays fast approaching...Justin started up back at work after four long grandmother died...we celebrated Christmas...and then New Years came, bringing with it another lay-off and more fervent searching for work and dollars. That was three months ago, and he has only just started back.

I am not complaining. On many levels, I think that this past year has been one of the most amazing that we have ever experienced. We are expecting the arrival of our sixth child in a matter of weeks and we have seen the house of our dreams delivered into our hands. We got to watch God provide for us in amazing, amazing ways over seven long months of unemployment (I had actually just emptied our savings account only a week or two before he was called back to work this last time. Somehow that money lasted the better part of a year!). We have drawn closer together as a family as we have struggled with our basic needs, instead of turning on each other in attack.

By the middle of March I realized suddenly that somewhere along the line, I had sort of lost all desire to get up and go. I had been canceling plans with friends for more weeks than I could count. I had stopped even trying to answer my birthday had come and gone and I had refused to see anyone. I was struggling to keep up with the housework, but it wasn't because there was too much of it per se, I just didn't care anymore. So--and I know this sounds backwards, but--the thought that maybe I had just been depressed for months on end was somehow a terribly comforting thought. I've been through depressions before. They are certainly nothing new. But I didn't recognize it this time because if I stopped and questioned myself, I was right where I wanted to be. I love this house, I'm pleased about the baby coming, I know my husband loves me. It was all that garbage stress! It takes a toll!

I might be wrong here, but I think they say that the top five stressors are: losing your job, moving, having a baby, death in the family, and divorce. I told Justin finally: We are experiencing four of the five; as long as we can stick it out (you and I); we'll be okay!

I'm probably butchering the way I'm saying this, but I don't think that depression is un-Biblical. What I mean is: I think that it is plenty natural that we are all going to go through times where we feel fairly well-balanced, and like we want to engage in life...and I think that we are also going to go through times where we withdraw and grow quiet and disappear emotionally for a while. It fits with what I see in the nature out my window; it fits with the weekly pattern of Sabbath. In our culture, we feel this sense of having to be "on" all the time, and I think it's extremely damaging. Nobody can live up to that standard. Even the trees cannot flower all year round!

Now I know, I know, there are many, many other factors at play, and I'm not even going to begin to get into the discussion about medications etcetera...all I'm saying is: I don't think depression always has to be a bad thing, or something we should always stifle or stuff. In some occasions, I think it can play a valid part in our lives as part of our story; I believe that God is still present in those moments when we shut everyone else out. Realizing that I had sunk into that pit was such an encouragement to me (backwards as that sounds) because in that moment, I realized that the season would come to an end. Winter always thaws at some point.

What I have learned is this: It is always dangerous to assume that your life today is the new normal. No matter what. Life is good? Beautiful. Use it, revel in it, because tragedy may strike tomorrow. Life is a pit, with no way out? Watch for a ladder to present itself. It will, eventually. This life is ever-changing.

It is the middle of April and we woke up this morning to snow dumping out our windows. It made me smile and made my children jump with glee. Just one more example that we cannot always see what is headed our way!