Friday, May 26, 2017

Morning Song

This morning I awoke at 530am. It is Friday.

As the dog began to bark I did not hope that he would relinquish the call for me or anyone from upstairs, but I went down to greet him and begin the morning. In late May the morning is already breaking into the day before 6am, but in the hotel or the rental house I would have wished it dark.

Now I am ready to start. The downstairs are bright and clean and I have a client at 9am and now I can have an hour with the dog and the sunrise and raisin bran and counterculture coffee and filtered water from the new fridge. Everything is new and I am stirred no less than the coffee run through the french press.

The morning has broken and I am entering into new light. I am ready for new things. I am not afraid. I am ready to face the day. I am ready to greet children and welcome their commentary on the changes to their surroundings. Some change comes with criticism at first. Let it come. It's all part of their stirring, the process of adjusting to a new wineskin. Their home is new, but they were paradoxically once in it, but in it in a different skin. Before it was yellow on the outside and there were carpets upstairs. There were two sofas in the living room and no doors on the front office. The back deck was rougher and darker and now it is lighter and smoother. The berm was not cut back showing the fence and lost soccer and kickballs on the other side where there was once a thick brush. The prayer wall has been reconfigured in a low long line beside the house. Things are similar, yet decidedly different. How does all of that feel to a nine, or an eleven, or a thirteen year old? I don't really know. It feels great to an almost 42 year old. My birthday will not come (June 18) with me a sojourner. Instead, I will awake here, stirred, rested and ready to listen to the day.

With a word, the Lord stirs me in the morning; 
in the morning, he stirs my ear to hear like a disciple.

This word is written on a scroll held by the prophet Isaiah on an icon I have treasured for years. I wrote the words on the bare floor of my bedroom before the hardwood covered it up, sometime in the Spring or late Winter of 2017. But the words are still under there. The words are hermetically protected by the hardwood. I even saw them after the hardwood was first laid, because those floors had to be ripped up and put down again. So I know they rest protected. By the grace of God, I'll never look on them again. But they still speak to me. I can still hear them. I can still follow their commands -- to get up in the morning, to stir, to hear well, because disciples hear for action, contemplation, for wisdom. I often tell coaching clients that it sometimes takes saying something three or four times to figure out what you really think and feel about a subject. Do I believe this and both sides of it. Sometimes you have to say it three or four times to figure out what you really think. Sometimes you have to hear three or four times to figure out what you really think. In a hurried world, it takes time to hear and say things three or four times. Better to get it right and hear and speak like a disciple.

Kristen took a picture of each of our prayers and scriptures written on the floors of the rooms where we sleep during construction. Each of us received a framed picture of the words that we wrote. Each little gift was placed on our beds on the day we moved in. She truly is a great giver of gifts. Mine are the words above and once more:

With a word, the Lord stirs me in the morning; 
in the morning, he stirs my ear to hear like a disciple.

Norman Maclean closes A River Runs Through It with "under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs." My words are under the floor, just a few feet away from where my head rests each night and lifts each morning. I can't see the words anymore, but I trust that they are still there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Moving Day is May 24th

In golf, Saturday is moving day, the day to position oneself for a run at a win on the final day of play. If you can move on Saturday you can win on Sunday.
Our moving day was today, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. We just had to be in position for the win as we had been losing for so long -- 228 days. A tree fell on our home on a Saturday, coincidentally, the 8th of October, and we moved out. We moved eight separate times from October to May -- hotel to rental house, back to the hotel when the heat quit working, back to the dreaded rental house with it's awful smell and muddy back yard. We just kept moving and moving.
And finally, a few days before Memorial Day we moved back into our home.
I had prided myself, arrogantly, that I was not a mover. I am a durhamite and settled here and specifically in this particular home once yellow, now a beautiful grey. We had been in our same home, in the same town, for nearly a decade when we were forced out, no thanks to Hurricane Matthew and Loblolly Pine that split through our roof. Rain poured in for the next 12 hours.
As I drove this morning from the Residence Inn on Main Street in Durham to our home on Denada Path, I started to feel alive and hopeful. I started to imagine that I could write again and I could make plans for the Snow in October project on a daily basis. I had begun the project as a balm, a source of healing in the days after the disaster, but mostly I couldn't find the words. For November and December, I could barely drag myself out of bed. 
But today was different. As a I drove and returned home, I felt the full weight of Spring turning to Summer. I felt like Durham was a place I could grow old again, and not just a town where all my dreams had been cast away. 
I stopped for coffee at the drive-thru Starbucks on 15-501 for Kristen and the movers from Trosa. I knew that most of the guys who would be helping with the move would be new to the addiction program, probably living in the main quarters on James Street, between our house and the hotel where we had stayed the last 24 days. The month of May included three more delays by the worst contractors and sleaziest company I have ever worked with. Too awful to even mention. Ask me face to face, and I will tell you. Or maybe, by God's grace, I will forget them completely.
But the Trosa guys, I knew these guys would be super polite, not the most polished movers, but still excellent service and just part of how we move and how we celebrate Christmas -- with one of their Frazier Firs. Can't wait to have Christmas back at home tomorrow, plus seven months.
As I write this, lstening to James River Blues by Old Crow Medicine Show.
Thinking of James Street, where Trosa residents live and sort out their next step. Reminiscing about the James River in Richmond, where William and I crossed a few weeks back and then watched Keslowski and Jimmy Johnson race with 40 other guys as a distraction to the long exclusion from our home. As I drove to help with the unpacking at the house, optimistic about what Kristen would already be directing, I started thinking about NASCAR and this weekend's race in Charlotte. I thought once I got back here to Denada Path that I'd never want to travel, never want to leave again. But instead, I started to feel settled, knowing this time for the first time in a long time, I would be coming back to my proper home. I could go away this Sunday and Monday and leave the house to Kristen alone, which she would love, the chance to work alone and fix things up with clear eyes to fill her heart so she can't lose again. Thanks Coach Taylor and Touchdown Tammy and all the crew from Dillon, Texas.
The stream of consciousness style is intended to show what it takes to survive and distract from difficult times -- music and Netflix and golf and stock car racing were just a few of the ways that I kept moving forward. We're back!!!