Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Yesterday we had a guest preacher, a woman from a nearby city. When she called the children forward for the children’s sermon, two school-age boys and one toddler girl came forward.
The little girl was delightfully in her own world, jabbering and clapping her hands. At first the pastor tried to quiet her and distract her, but her efforts were fruitless. The girl had obviously just figured out that she could string words together and adults would stop to listen.
The pastor moved on. With a steady little drone of chattering in the background, much like a cheerfully babbling brook, she launched into her mini-sermon on gratitude.
Then she made the mistake of asking the boys about the best Christmas present they got this year. I knew the answer before they said anything.
Both boys are Lego maniacs and love to talk about it. They began describing the giant Lego sets that they had received.
“I think mine had ten bags of pieces in the box,” one boy said.
“No,” said the other, his brother, “it had twelve!”
They debated the full number of pieces and how long it took to assemble. Meanwhile, the little girl kept up her jabbering. I didn’t think the pastor was going to be able to reel in her children’s sermon, but she did.
“Let’s finish by saying thank-you to God,” the pastor said.
One boy threw his hands in the air and yelled, “Thank you!”
But the pastor said, “No, let’s bow our heads and close our eyes to talk to God.”
The boys complied. The girl twirled around.
“Thank you, God, for all the good things You give us,” preacher prayed. “Amen,” she concluded, emphasizing the “A”.
One boy’s head shot up, then his hand followed. “I have a question,” he said.
I’m sure she was anticipating more Lego talk. I was surprised she didn’t look exasperated.
“Yes?” she asked.
“Why can’t we say ‘A-women’?” he asked. “It doesn’t seem fair.”
I had to stifle my laughter.
You never know.
I wrote this back in November 2013. I had been sorely disappointed with a concert I had gone to with Mary. Too much glitz, not enough real.
To be honest, I had forgotten a lot of the details of that evening until I reread this post.
Spoiler alert: The bottom line is that expectation sometimes leads to disappointment, and disappointment sometimes leads to ice cream — so in the end, it’s all good, right?
From November 2013 —
The fact that Sonic was already closed on the way home was the icing on the cake of disappointments. Or, should I say – the ice cream. I was so sure that a one dollar vanilla cone from Sonic would ease my pain.
Then, when Wendy’s didn’t have a vanilla Frosty milkshake, I was, like, “What do you mean you don’t have it? I’m looking at it on the sign!”
The polite night-shift server at Wendy’s explained. “Nobody ever ordered those, so they took it off the menu.”
“Well, they need to take it off their drive-thru menu as well,” I grumbled to myself.
So I drove across a four lane highway to get to Burger King. Good thing it was 11:17 PM, and nobody else was on the road.
And at least they were open and had a Hershey’s Sundae Pie.
The things we do for our comfort foods.
It wasn’t the ice cream, though, that brought me back to reality. It was riding home in the car with my dear, sweet 13-year old daughter, and thinking how precious it was that I could spend an evening with her.
It was remembering our laughter as we waited in line in the cold and sang Smothers Brothers songs to each other.
It was reflecting on the fact that she didn’t seem disappointed with the evening. My own expectations had probably been too high.
I know people who try not to get excited over upcoming events. “That way I won’t be disappointed,” they say.
Would I trade all the anticipation, all the eagerness, the thrill of imagining what was to come for a blasé attitude?
No, I think I’d rather ride the roller coaster.
And then treat myself to ice cream.
“Hey, Mom, do you know what the best number is?”
Karl asked this at dinner because we were discussing numbers.
For the record, I did not know what the best number was, nor did I even know there was a best number.
I mean, I do have a soft spot for primes and squares. Doesn’t everybody?
But I don’t have a favorite number.
And I didn’t know there was a best number.
The discussion had started with the number four. I don’t remember who said it, but someone brought up the fact that four is considered unlucky in certain countries like Korea or China.
“It’s like thirteen in this country,” I said, “but I don’t think thirteen is that bad. It is, after all, prime.”
That’s when Karl asked the best number question.
“Seven?” Bud guessed.
A lot of people really like seven. It’s a prime. And considered lucky.
“Nope,” Karl answered. “But it has a seven in it.”
I started mentally running through the numbers ending with seven. “Seventeen?” I guessed.
I knew it couldn’t be twenty-seven. It is a cube number which makes it interesting, but not the best.
“Thirty-seven?” I guessed.
“It’s seventy-three,” Karl said. “It’s the twenty-first prime and the mirror of thirty-seven which is the twelfth prime. Twelve and twenty-one are mirrors.”
Kind of cool. For someone who likes prime numbers. And symmetry.
How we got from there to spitting peas I don’t know.
Really. The next thing I knew Karl was challenging Laurel to a pea-spitting contest.
They each took a few peas from their dinner plate and headed to the back deck to see who could spit them farther.
“Mom,” Mary pleaded, “they’re spitting peas.”
“I know,” I said, “but Karl leaves for college soon.”
Would I have allowed this years ago when Philip was heading off to college? Probably not.
But I’ve learned.
At the end of the day, the things we remember aren’t the quirky discussions of numbers but the spitting of peas and the accompanying laughter.
I so want my children to look back at their growing up years and be able to laugh.
Karl placed 2nd in Class C tennis doubles at sectionals. SECOND!
A great finish for my soccer-playing boy and his soccer-playing partner.
Last week, we had spent a sunshiny day on a Pennsylvania mountain for round one of sectionals. That was the day both Karl and I forgot sunscreen, but I had the luxury of sitting in the shade while he and his partner bobbed and weaved on a full sun court, easily winning all three matches. He was sun-burned, but moving on.
Sectional finals took place on indoor courts. He and Michael won their first match there less easily. Their opponents played in cargo shorts and won the first game. You can’t judge a tennis player by their shorts.
Karl and Michael won the match, though, and advanced to the championship.
Wow, I thought. Could he and Michael possibly be sectional champions?
The first serve by the kid in the backwards hat put a crack in that dream. Whoosh! I barely saw the ball.
Karl started laughing.
The server switched sides. Karl stepped forward, while Michael moved into position to receive the next serve. The dance of doubles tennis.
Whoosh! Michael just shook his head.
Karl was better prepared for the next serve. He changed where he stood and crouched in readiness.
Whoosh! The first serve hit the net. The second serve lobbed over for an easy return. After a few back-and-forths, the server got his racket on the ball and smashed it into a far corner.
Michael was ready for his next serve. When it came directly at him, he put up his racket defensively. The ball bounced back to the opponents’ side and they had a short volley which ended in a point for Karl and Michael.
One more serve at Karl. Once again he was crouched and ready. Once more the gold sphere flew.
I watched Karl as they changed sides of the net. He was smiling and laughing. Part of him was enjoying this crazy game of tennis where he ultimately lost the match 6-1, 6-1.
As I told my father about it the next day, he said, “It’s a good thing he can laugh about it.”
Yes, it was. I had watched other players angrily whack their rackets into the padded walls in frustration. I watched them scowl and get angry. I wondered if any of them knew who John McEnroe was — masterful at tennis, but also masterful at the tennis tantrum.
Last night Karl said, “Somebody at school asked me why we lost so badly. I told him that he hadn’t seen that kid’s serve. No matter where I stood, he got it past me.”
And Karl was still laughing about it.
Laughter is sometimes the closest thing we have to grace.
Thankful for my son.