|The best peanut butter pie I've ever had, available at Ronda's|
Yesterday Ethan said, "Well honey, after today, you'll never get your 31st year back again,"
and I replied rather caustically "Thank goodness."
But later my heart was pricked with the attitude behind my "good riddance to my 31st year" comment.
I've been listening to Exodus while I do dishes.
that ragtag crowd of slaves, they
ate roasted lamb
with bitter herbs.
They knew 400 years of bitter treatment.
I have compassion for newly-freed slaves
with scars cut deep into their strong backs,
memories cut even deeper of
wet newborns silenced in the river
hearts and breasts sore from un-drunk milk,
I understand how they tripped up on trust, that their desert-thirst was bigger than their memory of the miracle of the Red Sea.
But I also understand the thundering of their-God-my-God, whom they drove to the brink of silencing forever their grumbling and complaining. I've never liked whining, even my own.
So, on this Ninth of March, I come to the Thundering Mountain, not trembling, but as a daughter—a grateful daughter, shoes off. I’m not necessarily forgetting the bitter salad of this past year, but I chose to focus instead on the feast of lamb with this list of 32 blessings. Most of these gifts would never have happened if I had been in the country and place of my choosing.
1 Meeting my beautiful niece Ariel and saying goodbye to her too, a hard gift
2 Driving through the misty flats of Delaware, the understated and under-appreciated beauty of home
3 Spur-of-the-moment meal invitations accepted by my sister
4 Dishwashers and stovetops with four burners instead of two
5 Story time at the Greenwood Public Library
6 Thrift Stores
7 Sweltering afternoons cooling off in the JAARS’ pool (James learning to swim!)
8 The surprise of working and loving the job as a JAARS Tour Guide
9 Cups of tea in the Wycliffe Counseling office and their compassionate conversations
10 Small pots made out of red North Carolina clay by Dorie, James, and their pack of neighborhood friends
11 Waxhaw Elementary School and a fantastic start to Dorie’s education
12 Stash tea, vinyl records, and deep friendship with the Sleeps
13 Cavities missed or ignored by previous dentists, but found and filled here
14 A dozen delightful new friendships—John and Kristy Craig, to name one
15 Love shown in Orange: a table of sympathy full of orange flowers, orange lip balm & bath gel, and orange tissues on the hardest day of my year
16 A family vacation to Tennessee at the peak of the fall colors, and just when my heart needed time to gasp, to process the death of so many dreams, to gather strength, and to remember that the death of the chlorophyll is what brings out the beauty of Autumn.
17 Forever memories for Dorie and James of their GGma and GGpa (Ethan’s grandparents), a short two hour drive from our NC home
18 Huddling up against the cold and enjoying Ethan’s family for two wonderful months—uncles, aunts, cousins, Omi and Opi, and lots of snow for James and Dorie to play with
19 Deepening friendships with Faith Bible Church, the Alianellos, and others
20 Meeting for a reunion with my RBC freshman-year girlfriends and our ever expanding brood—the good old days haven’t died
21 An easy transition back to Greenwood, Delaware—daily reminders of the rich community we enjoy
22 Sending Dorie to my old elementary playground, Greenwood Mennonite School
23 Saying hello to old friends—boxes and boxes of books packed away when we moved to Texas in 2011…we must claim the label ‘bibliophiles!’
24 Settling long enough to purchase a piece of furniture—a family sized bean bag!
25 Monday Game Night with my family
26 Landing a job doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do since high school—helping ESL students and their teachers
27 Reading time with Grandma Alene, a two minute walk away for James and Dorie
28 The joy of caring for elderly again: soapy washcloths, pureed food, answered bells, and wrinkled smiles
29 Attending Sewing Retreat
31. A new job for Ethan (first day today!)
32. Eating a Birthday Lunch with ‘the Yoder gals’ at Rondas (One of my favorite restaurants anywhere)