I took a dive one morning last week. I assure you, it wasn’t pretty. I landed in the icy waters of irritation and couldn’t, wouldn’t swim my way out.
The blank slate of our school day was stained by our sinfulness. That doesn’t surprise me but it always is embarrassing- even if I don’t tell anyone. We all had acted ridiculously. We spoke hurt that pierced exactly where we intended. It did the unholy thing that we knew we’d be asking for forgiveness later. It stung. In the midst of all the disappointment, the crying, the harsh tones, and the absolute aggravation, sensible here-is-the-way-out thoughts started floating and I couldn’t clear my mind. As I tried to reign myself in, the good thoughts, like clouds, morphed into something else entirely-- negative thoughts, self-pity, and then, for me, the dreaded whys. It was then I knew I need a few minutes to “frame the clouds”.
I have a new favorite musician about every six months or so and right now, it’s Christa Wells. The first time I heard her lovely voice sing these words in my kitchen, I understood.
All the words, they are my fingers on a face
oh the words
looking for patterns in the shapes
You’re so good
to be a witness to my sounds
trying to frame the clouds
Many nights, Jeff is the “witness to my sounds” trying to figure out my day, the things that happened here, the discipline administered, the conversations we had or didn’t have, the few pages I was able to read, the riff of the day between our two, or the phone call or email I received that was still lingering in my thoughts. As I have said before, many nights, there are ugly sounds. No matter, the thoughts just can’t be left drifting. Each one needs to be framed--- to learn from it, to see it for what it is, to not forget, and to make sense of it. To frame the clouds.
That day won’t be hanging on our staircase wall. I truly thought of my hopes to be thankful, to count the gifts and I wondered how creative I would have to get to write down just one. Ann Vos Kamp, the author of 1000 Thousand Gifts, also has what she calls an “ugly beautiful” list-- those circumstances or those things in our lives that are difficult or complicated-- but as we give, what may seem at first mechanical thanks for them, He can soften us and use the “ugly beautiful” for our good, for our sanctification. I wince admitting, that day, I didn’t even try. It seemed an unfeasible task.
Until much later....
All the tension was mostly between Julia and me, although Brighton was splashed pretty well as I went about my day. As I reviewed the morning with her, explaining why I was so disappointed in us, she met my own remorse with her own fresh repentance. Her actions had stirred me up and she knew it. I had thrown out lots of words as the clock ticked into the afternoon-- so, after all was said and done, I asked her what she had heard me say. Her nine year old frame curled in my lap, brunette head buried, “You said you loved me, no matter what.” That was easy to pluck from the confetti of words she saw scattered about her, necessary for her to frame.
After our talk, she had framed her own clouds.
She needed to.
Just like me.
And I like this frame from Lamentations.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (3:22-26)
148. a day that reminds me, like Thursday’s child, I have far to go
149. ninth dozen yellow roses from my brother to my daughter
150. a slipper day
151. tease of spring
152. secrets shared
155. saloon strummer singing that he’s forever in Your debt
156. table of lunch food ladies like
158. the courage of my husband
159. Esther’s story being read on blankets in our cul de sac by daughter to friend
160. by grace through faith
161. anticipating winter’s blast
162. time to frame the clouds