I arrived home the other night after driving my teenage son an hour to his theater rehearsals to downtown San Diego. This is now the sixth week of driving him, on average six days a week, mostly during rush hour. My husband tag-teams with me, meeting me at a local city park after his long day of work to wait for my son’s rehearsals to end at 10 p.m. He’s a mensch, my Jewish mother, the mother I never had. He doesn’t like me driving late in the dark. I have a picnic waiting for him. We enjoy our forced, but welcomed date as I wait for rush hour traffic to die down before heading home.
On the drive downtown to drop my son off, the the salty breeze was a welcome relief from the sinking, still potent California sun scorching my skin through the car windows. Now driving home, I make my best attempt to let go of exhaustion by opening the windows wide, allowing the rush of Pacific’s warm ocean breezes to caress my skin and whip wildly through my tangled hair. My breath deepening, I exhale a slow, steady soothing stream. Tension melts down my neck, rolling off my shoulders into the wind, the sound of fast rolling tires lulling me into a driving meditation.
After this lovely traffic-free drive home, I pull into our driveway, eager to crawl under my covers. As I get out of the car, I notice the full, luminous moon against the backdrop of the vast black velvet starless sky, casting a magical glow over our cul-de-sac.
For the first time in weeks, I stand still. For several moments, the night’s silence and moon’s majestic lure hold me in a holy vacuum in time, in a great, hushed pause.
Perhaps I’ve been swallowed by exhaustion from self-less mothering, these long drives, to-do lists, and juggling work, that I was blinded to this luminous spotlight in the night sky, the great and mighty moon lighting my way back home up I-5.
Waking this morning, I sense exhaustion sinking into my mattress, the pillow under my head feels soft and comforting. A cacophony of bird songs play their symphony outside my bedroom window, a crow’s cackle echoing from it’s throne high on trees in a neighboring park. A few more crows follow it’s screeching song. Smaller birds sing me a sweet morning melody, resting in rows on tall and slender palm trees in my yard, reaching high toward the blue, violet sky. Somehow they remind me of a row of eager children, holding back prideful grins, each dressed in thrown-together costumes, hushing parents to quiet down, eager to perform their half-rehearsed skit. I imagine less than eager parents wiping jaded, impatient expressions off their faces — they’d rather be sipping coffee at Starbucks, needing a break from another kid thing, from another forced smile. I, too, need a jolt of caffeine, not sure I want to hear the beauty of the bird’s trill. But the little feathered creatures sing anyway, a beautiful, sweet tender song. I take a deep breath, sinking into my bed.
They disappear. A muffle of a dog’s bark, the faint sounds of tires rolling, my cat resting on my shoulders, prepares me for my morning meditation and prayer. I think, “a cat’s life is luxurious.”
Sipping my tea, the usual, green tea with a honey and vanilla soy milk, Bible verses root me into the weekend. I drink their splendor.
It’s been a long season of diligence, a portion self-imposed, some part of the hypnotic trance of the rat race we all fall into. My version is the To-do lists of parenting, college research, work, shopping, cooking, shopping, cooking, driving, driving, driving. My body-pump classes help release accumulated stress, but they’re exhausting, too.
Morning prayer reminds me, I’m too diligent, too fragmented. I’m missing full moons, birds singing, brilliant colored flowers, like in Monet paintings, dotting our town. Yet, I recall poignant moments, the wise, encouraging words my dearest friend sends to me in a Facebook messages, ‘driving our children is a sacred act’. It is. She is right. This is the last year before my son is off to college, driving on his own. I think of our long conversations in the car, singing classic rock together, hedging and holding his angst, listening to his dreams and joys. My friend’s last name is Bless, can you imagine?
I recall, too, this morning, the moments in the city park this week as I waited for my husband, the innocence of the blonde little girl in the pink dress swinging high, and the little boy, no more that six, yelling out the ‘f’ word to a sweet little scared boy. The sweet little boy comes over to my blanket, and just stares. He’s seeking help, his instincts must know I’m a good lady. I say, ‘Is that little boy bulling you?” He shakes his dear little head up and down. I say, “you tell me if he does that again, I’ll help you tell him he can’t do that anymore”. His grin is wide. He shakes his head up and down like a baby peacock. Giving me a quick, assured wave, he runs off to play, relieved, free.
I recall the blog I read under the city park tree while waiting for my husband to arrive. Andrew, a blogger in an online community I frequent, is dying. He writes a stunning blog called, Your Dying Spouse at Blessed Are the Pure of Heart. In his blog I read about the aloneness he feels that must come with dying, “a hard blog for him to write”, he says.
Like the moon, his words stop me in my tracks.
The next day I read another blog he writes,
“When the curtain looks like it’s about to fall, it’s almost universal that a dying person is going to go through a period of reflection.
What did my life add up to? What did it mean?
When the horizon’s clear, and we feel that our days are still many, we tend to look at each day as an opportunity to catch up – to correct at least some of the mistakes we’ve made, to catch up with those dreams that shimmer tantalizingly out of reach.”
Tears roll down my cheeks from a deep, warm place. I leave a comment on his blog saying, “I complained all day about the heat, while you suffer in pain day in and day out.”
While you remind me to pause, to appreciate the moon, the songs, the children.
I thank God for the pauses in our days, for Andrew’s deep words. I know for sure, in them we find God.