Facing full into the force of the wind-wave of life, unexpected the staccato movements of ordinary are swept up, and with it our tidy anticipation of things to come.
It was a routine service check-up for our furnace. But when the technician with the rough hands and the darkened fingernails told us of the crack, the leak, and with concern for our Littles, pulled the plug on our heat, we gave thanks for the sun and the rare March warmth. 75* and windows flung wide gave heat enough to our home, and days passed as we looked this unexpected in the eye. Naive of us, maybe, we knew that our system was old, but we had trusted it to noisily chug on for almost forever. People talk of “emergency money” and “reserves” for just this thing, of course, but our reality has much more to do with groceries and school bills, new clothes for the always growing Littles and our life has been full of little emergencies. So it is that life, unexpected again is at our feet, and we choose how we respond. We sign the dotted line, take our two-years interest free, and hope this warmth lasts until they can get it done.
The leaves, dry and brittle, whip against the window. The air cuts through the cracks between window glass and aged wood, whistling in to my space. Last week I peeled off layers of clothing, checking my calendar against the sweat and the sun. The unexpected warmth sent me scrambling. I pitched baskets of clothing in strong attempts to unearth a t-shirt or two for Littles, cursing my unorganized self and again bewildered by the sudden growth of these babes. I shrugged my shoulders at the realization that no thin cotton pajamas in this house would fit these long limbed bodies. Today, though, I force sweatshirts over shoulders, fleece blankets wrapped tight to ward off the chill of the wind. Though it is brisk, it is familiar and expected as March shakes its lion’s mane. And today, I am thankful for those workmen, Rob and Tom, banging and clanging in my basement, replacing that sixty year old furnace and creating heat once again for my babes. Tonight, the weatherman predicts 28*.
Sunday sighed weary towards Monday, and I resigned to the unknown ups and downs and around the bends of Mark’s working schedule this week. We had pizza with wine, catching the news from friends missed while little ones wore each other weary. We said our g’nights too late, and piled drowsy bodies into the station wagon, headed home. Home, though, was dark and quiet, no electric hum to illuminate our path. Life, unexpected, and with no clear explanation of a storm or accident, our house stood still, without power. Strangely, too, we had no way of even getting into our house: garage door can’t budge, chains lock our front door from within and an odd assortment of the wrong sorts of keys can’t open the back. We turned back, u-turned to tuck tired babes into bed with friends, brainstorming our next move.
I claimed another number to my years, and I became 32 with barely a voice, my throat scratched and parched, my head feeling the vice’s pinch. Life, unexpected – who wants to be sick on their birthday? My only wish was to sleep, to stay in bed and not get out. And thus it was granted, and my 22 year-old self would have laughed, but I snuggled in deep. And though it was quiet, I was celebrated with homemade birthday cards, tender kisses, and these Blessings with two feet and runny noses, laughter contagious and silly faces.
Sometimes the best memories come at us in moments of unexpectation: the mind-photo I now have of the Eldest and Middlest, tucked into one big bed, her legs thrown over his body, and then being midnight-scooped up to head back to our home, our dog. Upside down days filled with daytime Daddy-play. The unexpected life carries moments to trust in the provision of God, and loved ones.
This life, unexpected, trains us to bend to the pressure of the wind, the cold, the necessary, so that we don’t snap. We practice staying agile so as not to grow brittle and break.