[iPhone ~ Antidote's patio, a few weeks ago]
I've had a rough week or two, so I desperately needed a healing day. Tuesday was such a day. I met one of my blog-friends, Lesli, for the first time at Antidote. We both appreciate good coffee and tea, and we're both waiting for pregnancy. I am usually sincerely happy for women I know who become pregnant, but as a human being, every once in awhile, my selfish side rears it's repulsive head and I inwardly sulk, diving headlong into despair. Though Lesli "has her moments," as she said, I correctly gathered from our e-mail correspondence that she's learned the art of selflessness. She started an infertility support group here in Houston - HOPE - and just launched a lovely web site - Dancing Upon Barren Land. As we talked at Antidote, she listened intently and encouraged me. Her faith in what she cannot see was so inspiring. I'm grateful to meet such faithful women; I've got a lot to learn.
This morning, I read two timely verses, very fitting to my life at the moment:
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
[2 Peter 3:8-9]
I actually laughed aloud because in my recent bemoaning, I thought surely God had forgotten about me. Um, hello? I really feel like crap here. That room upstairs is empty as the day is long. Are you there God? It's me, Jenni.
But as I read in Peter's letter, the truth of the matter is that God is not doing things slowly at all. Slow to me? Good Lord, yes. Slow to Him? Nope, and He's for sure got the better plan. It's nice to be reminded that I don't know everything after all.
As Lesli and I ordered our drinks, the Antidote barista gave me an hourglass timer for the brewing of my pomegranate green tea. It became a symbol; I pondered the matter of time as I drove around my city that day.
After Antidote, I wandered the aisles of Kaboom Books for a few minutes. I was hoping to find Jayber Crow or some other must-have book, but as I currently have plenty on my reading plate, 'twas sufficient to merely browse and inhale that old-book smell.
Just in the nick of time, Johnny called saying he was headed my way, to let a painter inside our Church. We seized the opportunity for a lunch-date at Subway. While I waited on my husband, I drove around the neighborhood admiring bungalows and old, graceful oak trees. I kept thinking how nice it would be to get my art-fix at the Menil after lunch. I tried to talk Johnny into joining me, but he was too busy. He's not quite as artsy-fartsy as I am, anyway.
I drove down Studemont which turned into Montrose, my old pre-marriage stomping ground. I passed what used to be Ming's, where Kierstin and I enjoyed Chinese food and beer, but now it's a dumb burger joint. I was immediately whisked back to memories of Kierstin's old apartment on W. Gray, coffee at Diedrich's on Westheimer (also now closed), and my other friends who have moved out of town. So much changes with time. The friendships remain, but now across different cities and states. Houston landmarks change. I'm a much different gal than I was then - I hope wiser, but maybe just weirder.
["St. Basil Facade" by gwenturnerjuarez]
I pulled up to a stop light, Doug Burr & his choir singing through the speakers, "Surely, there is a God!" Right before my eyes was the beautiful Chapel of St. Basil on the University of St. Thomas campus, the golden dome and Cross softly gleaming in the cloudy sunlight. It was one of those moments that to some might seem like a coincidence of traffic, but I knew better. God is always speaking, and at that red light, He was talking to me. I am here. I am with you. I have not forgotten your perpetual discomfort. I have not forgotten your empty womb. Just wait with Me, and see!
I drove through a few green lights and pulled into the Menil's parking lot. I e-mailed Kierstin to share the demise of Ming's. I watched an old man dressed in black unfold out of his white car and slowly head toward the art museum. I suddenly grew very excited about my little pilgrimage - the Menil is one of my sanctuaries in Houston. But as I neared the sign listing the museum hours, I felt like an idiot. The Menil is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Shouldn't I know this as a Houstonian?
The old man reappeared and said with a warm accent, "Hello, are you a painter?" I laughed since the extent of my painting would be watercolor stick figures or something. I said, "No, I'm a writer." When he looked impressed, I was quick to add, "aspiring writer."
We mutually lamented that the Menil was closed, and also shared our like-minded adoration for the collection. I learned this old man was an engineer from Argentina, with homes in both Houston and his native country. He had kind, tired, sad eyes. I wondered about the rest of his story. We both agreed that the Menil is the best art museum in Houston. "Just right - not too big - my feet don't wear out. I love the building, the space," he said. Then I bid him goodbye and got back in my silver Monte Carlo.
I popped in a Mars Hill Audio Anthology - Place, Community, and Memory - on loan from our new pastor. Just a quick word about Fr. Doug. His theology is all we could want from a priest; he loves local coffee joints and good films (such as the Coen Brothers); and Wendell Berry is his favorite author and prophet. Oh, and he posted a quote (from this article) on his Facebook wall:
"What does it mean to be an agrarian in the 21st century, when very few Americans live on a farm? To be an agrarian is not necessarily to grow food, but to be informed, or at least curious, about how food goes from farm to fork. Honest curiosity leads to honest explorations into how we might become more socially and environmentally conscious consumers."
I think we're in good hands, don't you?
. . . I arrived home to a great mail day: Response magazine. Tuckered but happy, I curled up with A Wrinkle in Time. It's so interesting to re-read a book that I loved as a child. Some things I remember, some details seem brand new. But what has surprised me the most is how much I relate to the character of Meg. She's a sweet, self-deprecating girl who is quick to worry and fear, and often angry whilst fretting and cowering. She's also impatient in the matters of time; she wants to know everything right away. Where's her Dad? Is he OK? Will her little brother, Charles Wallace, be OK?! Will they all tesser home safe & sound?! As I read, I wanted to tell her, "Cool it, babe," but then I thought perhaps I should cool it right now.
I was happy to rediscover the red-headed character of Calvin O'Keefe, such a charming young man. Both his name and hair color make me smile; I hope one of our kids will have red hair. It's up to God, of course, but it could happen. My grandfather was red-headed, and my Mom has auburn hair. We shall see.
Now I'm on book 2 of L'Engle's Time series: A Wind in the Door.* I loved when the cherubim - who the children mistook for a dragon - said to Meg, "Come, littleling. I'll take you some place yesterday and show you."
"How can you take me yesterday?"
"I can't possibly take you today, silly. It's time for you to go in to breakfast and your mother dislikes tardiness. And who knows what we may have to do or where we may have to go before tomorrow?"
Time seems so important on earth, and sometimes it is. Time frames our days, yet to God, it is never too late. He's always punctual: yesterday, today, and forever. My fighting health issues for two years is not a cosmic mistake. Waiting for childbirth at age 34 is not the end of the world.** Quite the contrary: whenever I do share that good news here on my blog, it will be 1-2 (or more?) of my contributions to the re-making the world, just in time. A few littlelings to carry on great creative works where Johnny and I leave off.
* - Johnny gave me the whole Time series as a gift - I love the cover art by Taeeun Yoo.
** - My husband turns 42 next week! The celebration begins this Saturday evening . . .