Maelstrom

Life lately has felt a little like a hurricane, a chaotic maelstrom, a funnel of wind picking up tons of dust, but the occasional piece of tinsel too.  I’m standing in the middle of it – though not quite in the eye, because it’s definitely not eerily calm – and trying to keep my eyes open even as the flotsam and jetsam in the air stings them.

And this tornado is not because of holiday craziness; I’m happy with my efforts to pare down this season to what matters to us.  It’s more how quickly everything is flying by: the years are spinning so quickly I feel dizzy, the ground is shifting under my feet, the room tips regularly as I survey it, stunned by how everything is precisely the same as and utterly different from the last time I looked.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was sitting at the littlest kids’ holiday concert at Grace and Whit’s school, with both of them crowded onto my lap?  She was in first grade and he was a Beginner.  Seriously: that was yesterday.  But wait!  It’s her mouth in those picture that’s missing teeth, and his hair looks distinctly shaggier.  In fact they don’t both fit on my lap like that anymore.  This year will be my last year attending that concert, with its sit-on-the-floor informality and small voices singing Jingle Bells and our favorite, Snowpants.  Never again.

Oh, I am such a cliche, but it’s all so true.  Life’s river swirls on and on, consistent and yet ever-changing, and I struggle to keep my balance in the rapids.  The whitewater isn’t so different from the dust; they both sting me a lot and scare me a little, and can get in the way of all the beauty.

I so desperately want to keep my eyes open despite all that dust, so that I can see the sparkle of the tinsel.  It reminds me of an evening recently when I was chopping onions over the sink.  My eyes were filled with tears and I rubbed at them with my knuckles, trying to clear my vision.  As I was doing this, Grace exclaimed, “Look!  It’s our cardinal!  In the back yard!”  I tried hard to open my eyes, to see the bright red bird through the sluice of my tears.  I saw the red, though it was streaked with tears, and it hurt a bit to open my eyes.

Maybe this is just the lesson.  It hurts a little, and it’s not always completely clear, but if we keep our eyes and our hearts open we can see the color, the shimmer, the shine.


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7 Comments

  1. Posted December 7, 2011 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, Lindsey, thank you.

    This is the last year my daughter will be home with us, and while our tradittions have changed radically over the last couple years, I don’t imagine there is any way to hold back this particular tide. It’s beyond comprehension, how we got here, and yet it’s all as it should be…

    XOXO

  2. Posted December 7, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Perfect metaphor.

  3. Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The very last thing you are is a cliche! In fact, I am continually blown away by your ability to put words to feelings, to transform what we know in our hearts into urgent messages for our souls.

  4. Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Crying. Gorgeous words, beautiful imagery, beautiful you.

    (PS: G looks a lot like you in that photo.)

    For some reason, reading your post reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Christmas carols from John Denver and the Muppets,

    When the mountain touches the valley, all the clouds are taught to fly as our souls will leave this land most peacefully.

    Though our minds be filled with questions, in our hearts we’ll understand when the river meets the sea.

    Like a flower that has blossomed in the dry and barren sand,We are born and born again most gracefully. Thus the winds of time will take us with a sure and steady hand
    when the river meets the sea.

    Patience, my brother and patience, my son, in that sweet and final hour truth and justice will be done.

    Like a baby when it is sleeping in its loving mother’s arms,what a newborn baby dreams is a mystery. But his life will find a purpose and in time he’ll understand when the river meets the sea. When the river meets the almighty sea.

  5. Posted December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I was at the second of what, I hope, will be six annual holiday concerts at our preschool last night and I spent much of it thinking about how much our lives have changed just in the last year. And I was reminded, once again, of Katrina’s words on “the weight of the passing of all things,” wishing I was better at bearing it. xo

  6. Posted December 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the view of the Grace-full cardinal through the veil of tears—I see, and hear, you loud and vividly.

    I thought of you this morning as I jogged through frost-dusted LA… my own achilles heel was asking for my attention, and then I though of your running, and then I thought about how even the pains, or perhaps especially the pains, that we all experience create windows into the matrix of our interconnections.

    Namaste either way

  7. Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh the maelstrom. Today was a tinsel day for us, but the dust always returns. I think it’s there so we can practice being strong.

    LOVE the photos! And that Bruce is in our running group as well. xoxo