Lee Hull Moses

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The Bunns

We have two new neighbors. They live in our backyard, they come and go as they please, they’re very quiet, and they have long ears that pop upright whenever they hear us coming. So far, they’ve stayed out of the lettuce in our garden..

IMG_5055We look for them every morning out the den window, and when we see them, Jonathan, who doesn’t do anything subtly, screams, “HI BUNN!” I can’t decide what’s more adorable: his exuberance or their little white tails.



Any May a Beautiful Change: 2013

Last May, a year ago, my good friend Katherine hosted a blog carnival and invited her readers to write about a “beautiful change.” I wrote about the first week I spent at the Collegeville Institue, which was the week I met Katherine (in the oddest cab ride ever), and the week when Hopes and Fears was born. Those were good, beautiful changes.

But when Katherine suggested a reprise of Any May a Beautiful Change, I had to think for awhile. We haven’t had many big changes around here recently. No new houses, jobs, kids.  (We did buy a van, but I’m in a little bit of denial about that, so we’ll just ignore that one.) Things are pretty stable. Not boring, by any means; we are running, all the time, trying to keep us with school and dinner and travel and work and church and the grass that grows faster than we can keep up with. But that’s just the pace of our lives right now, with two children who never stop moving and two jobs we (most of the time) love. Our lives are full… but not all that different than they were a year ago. I’m sure there are changes coming, probably something I’m not even expecting, but for the time being and for the foreseeable future, here we are.

We have a bunch of church members graduating from college this year, and I’ve been talking to some of their parents about how hard it is, sometimes, for them to imagine life after college. Some are heading to grad school, for more of the same in a way, but others are launching out into full-time, regular jobs. It’s scary, I think, when everything up to that point has been done in four-year increments, to face the reality of a situation with defined end point. No graduation day. No specific time when you know you’ll move on to something else.

I’m a ways out from those days, now, and I wish there was some way to reassure those anxious graduates that it’s okay to just live for awhile. Without being part of a program that shoves you out into the next thing.

Sometimes the most beautiful change is no particular change at all.

(If you haven’t read Any Day a Beautiful Change yet, I highly recommend it. If you want a little taste of how beautifully Katherine writes, read this post on her blog today.)

 

 



Hope

Harper and I have been working on a small Christmas craft, to give to teachers and grandparents (Sorry, Grandparents, to ruin the surprise). I do this sort of thing approximately once a year, so don’t get any ideas about what a crafty mom I am, but we had fun.

I wasn’t sure what we were going to make when we started out, but we ended up with a wall-hanging of sorts, which has four cards strung together, each with a word painted on it: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love — the words that help us mark time through Advent. We were making several of these, so there were piles of each word stacked around us as we assembled them yesterday afternoon. But when we had strung most of them together, we realized we were didn’t have enough: we had peace, love, and joy, but we were missing two “hope” cards.

“Mama!” Harper said when she realized, “There’s no more hope!”

Isn’t that the truth, I thought, thinking about Newtwon, and climate change, and the fact that there aren’t enough shelters in Guilford county to house all the homeless families. But she didn’t need to be burdened with all that, so we decided that it would be just fine if the last two crafts just said Peace, Joy, Love.

We finished it up and I took the finished projects into the kitchen while she cleaned up the living room floor. I heard her excited feet running toward me before I saw what she had in her hands: the missing cards.

“Look, Mom! Hope!”

They were there all along; we just hadn’t looked hard enough.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. I have repeated that to myself over and over and over in the last three days.

The darkness did not overcome it.



Miscellany

1. Yesterday, some unexplained forces turned our normally kind, sweet, and funny five-year-old into a moody, eye-rolling, sarcastic teenager with occasional 2-year-old tendencies. It was really fun. Could we just have one age at a time, please?

2.While fixing dinner, I looked down to find Jonathan lying on his stomach on the kitchen floor, smearing something brown and sticky in circles with his hands. Upon smelling it (because what else was I going to do?), I discovered that it was a melted chocolate chip. This was infinitely better than the alternative, but still confusing, because I really can’t remember the last time we had chocolate chips in the house.

3. A friend invited me over last night to look through some old children’s books he was getting rid of, and I came away with a box full of treasures, including several that I’m quite sure were in my collection when I was a kid but which I hadn’t thought of in years and years. I was particularly tickled to find this one, from the Sweet Pickles series.

“‘There’s a lot to worry about,’ sighed Walrus.”
So true, Walrus, so true.

4. In other book news: We were pleased to see that Hopes and Fears was mentioned in the Christian Century’s year-end list of recommended theology and philosophy books. Also, I’m doing a book signing on Saturday at 2:00 as part of the Holiday Open House at Barnhill’s, a wonderful little bookstore over in Winston-Salem. Several other writers and artists with church connections will be there as well. I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re local, join us!

5. Speaking of Christmas parties (were we? not really, I guess), I will be attending four in the next three days. ‘Tis the season!



Things I Love about Greensboro: Festival of Lights

High on the list of things I love about Greensboro (which also includes the Fourth of July parade, the downtown library, the science center, the children’s museum, the cheap downtown parking, the farmer’s market, the Grasshoppers, the community theater’s production of Wizard of Oz, and well, lots of other things) is the annual Festival of Lights. Elm Street, the main north-south road through downtown, gets closed off, and you can walk up and down the street, listening to music, shopping at little markets, and finally making your way to Center City Park, where the giant tree is lit. It has become a tradition of ours – this is our fourth Christmas here! Long enough to have traditions!

This guy was hanging out next to the fake-snow-maker, which essentially just spit soapy water into the air and made the street slick underneath. But if you looked up and squinted, you could kind of imagine a gentle Midwestern snowfall.

We’ve never been to anything here. We should rectify that.

Yes, this is that Woolworths.

We somehow missed the actual lighting of the tree (though we swear we were there on time.) No one seemed to mind, though.

Thanks, Greensboro.



A Card of Her Own

I am, generally, a very responsible person. I follow rules. I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket. I like deadlines and most of the time, meet them.

With one glaring exception: I cannot, for the life of me, return books to the library on time. While I don’t particularly mind supporting the library through these unintended donations, I’m pretty sure I could have purchased a small library of our own with the money I’ve paid in fines over the years.

So on Monday afternoon, at the library with the kids, it was not all that surprising when the librarian told me I had too many fines to check out any books. I needed to pay at least $3.65 to get my fines low enough to remove the restriction placed on my card. I would have paid it – there’s no arguing that the books were late – but I didn’t have any cash, or the checkbook, and the library isn’t set up to take credit cards.

“Well,” I said to Harper, “We’ll just read a couple of books here and come back another day to check some out.”

This did not go over well. I could sense a full-blown fit coming on and hesitated a moment, wondering if we should just leave now or go on to the children’s room and hope she could pull it together so we could read a book or two. In my moment of hesitation, the librarian jumped in:

“You know, she could get a card,” she said, pointing at Harper, “and you could check out books on her card.” Harper’s eyes lit up and she came back toward the desk.

“Do you have your ID?” the librarian asked me, and before I knew it, Harper was writing her name on the back of the card. “Now, of course, you have to be with her if she checks out books,” the librarian informed me.

This struck me as both completely ridiculous — You understand, I wanted to ask her, that I am the exact same person who already owes $8.65 and therefore I am not allowed to check out any books? I have not in any way proved myself to be worthy of the responsibility of a second card — and also completely charming and representative of everything I love about libraries.

(When I told this story to Rob later, he said I’d been the victim of predatory lending. I couldn’t pay the first loan, so they gave me a second one. Funny. But not true; predatory lending is an actual and terrible problem. Library fines are not.)

So I probably should have said no, but I did not want my daughter to be punished for the sins of her mother. Plus, you should have seen the quiet grin that crept across her face when the librarian handed her her card.

She grabbed some books, mostly at random, but we lucked out: One was about the civil rights movement; we learned about Martin Luther King, Jr., and what a coffin is (Where does the life go that was inside? she asked.) We read about a French sculptor and learned the word “oui.” We heard the story of a first grade class who welcomes a little girl who wears a headscarf. It’s a big world out there.

Good books, all of them. Would somebody please remind me to take them back on October 29?



Show Business

I’m not always entirely clear on how God answers prayers, especially the very specific “please-let-me-find-a-parking-space” variety. But I’m pretty sure there was some kind of divine intervention this afternoon when I said to myself, “If I have to play one more game of Tickle Monster with this five-year-old or dig this baby out of the trash can again, I don’t think any of us are going to make it to dinner.”

God said, “Then have a puppet show.”

Turns out, I’m pretty good at puppet shows. I’m think I was channeling a little bit of Jim Henson and a lot of my dad, who is also pretty good at puppet shows. In fact, one summer at camp, when we were counseling together, we put on a puppet show for the third-graders. The theme was the vine and branches passage from John’s gospel, and when we got to the phrase “you will bear fruit,” one of the puppets said, “Bear Fruit? What’s a Bear Fruit?” We thought it was hilarious. I’m sure the third-graders did too.

Anyway, one of my puppets bore a striking resemblance — in voice inflection, if not in appearance — to Grover, and the other was more of an Eeyore with a British accent. (I’m telling you. Oscar worthy performances.)

Harper played right along, talking back to the puppets and singing along with the songs. She came up on cue to give the puppets kisses and giggled at the jokes. She laughed hysterically when the puppets got attacked by a giant baby.

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After dinner, we had an encore presentation for Rob, who was very supportive of my newfound talents. Maybe if this ministry gig doesn’t work out, I’ll go on the road.

(So, if that was you, God, thanks for the idea.)




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