You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Parenting’ tag.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert (Puppy Pick-up Road Trip)

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert (Puppy Pick-up Road Trip)

Could barely watch as our old car crept onto the ramp of the vehicle that would tow it away. No, it wasn’t my father’s Oldsmobile—but it was my father’s Mercury, as well as my mother’s Mercury, before it became ours.

My father planned to go on many adventures when he bought a new Mercury Sable in spring of 2001. But soon after its maiden voyage—a joyful college reunion where he and my mother and their returning classmates of fifty years earlier were honored—he received a diagnosis of cancer’s return. Instead of driving off into sunsets to see his grandchildren, children, and friends, as well as sites previously unknown, he became a passenger in that car, chauffeured often to treatments and procedures back and forth through the canyons forged by the Big Thompson River. Nature’s beauty remained a constant companion on those final journeys he never chose to take.

This would not have been the car my mother chose for herself. But when he died before a year had passed since its purchase, the car was too much depreciated for her to sell it without a loss. So instead she drove off in it on her own solo adventures, as well as those with family members and friends, to locations near and far.

When my mother stopped driving almost six years later, that car came to us for our own adventures, both with and without her. We called the car the Grandma-mobile—which wasn’t really fair since she never would have chosen such a large car with such a long front end. This car most definitely did not fit the picture of what our two 16-year-old drivers preferred, but its ability to seat six worked well when we drove our kids and their friends during the period when their graduated licenses did not yet allow them to drive alone with their age-peers.

You know how the story went. Yes, I ended up with my father’s Mercury, which didn’t fit the picture of what a certain 46-year-old mother wanted to drive either. But we were grateful to receive a good car with low mileage, which was a much-needed answer to our burgeoning transportation needs.

That car played a big role in our own family stories and travels and transitions. It drove off to college loaded down with too much stuff, but returned home with two parents ready for a time of greater rest. The Mercury later transported our family to the sacred grounds where we laid my mother to rest. I picked up my daughter from her first year at college in it so she and I could take a classic western road trip to pick up my new puppy—not that my father would have ever allowed a dog in his car, let alone a puppy leaving his mother for the first time!

When this mom finally got a car more in tune to her dreams (a MINI S), my son Jackson was grateful to inherit the Grandma-mobile. True, he was no fan of parallel parking it but he most definitely appreciated the get-up-and-go as well as the ability to work and play without having to juggle cars with us. Unfortunately, the car (and its driver) got-up-and-went a bit too fast on an icy day last November, leaving the driver unscathed but every panel on the driver’s side damaged—enough so that the insurance company totaled the car due to its age—an age that reminds me just how long my father (and then my mother) have been gone.

Seems fitting that my father’s car left us on the last day of Mercury in retrograde. You may not believe in the power of the stars over our lives but this concept is just the right metaphor for saying goodbye to his Mercury. Astronomically, Mercury in retrograde is the time when the planet Mercury appears to reverse its orbit due to its position in the sky—which looks a whole lot like going backward. According to the StarChild site (linked to NASA), it is not doing so, but “. . . just appears to do so because of the relative positions of the planet and Earth and how they are moving around the Sun.” Astrologers, on the other hand, see Mercury in retrograde not only as a time of complications in areas such as transportation and communication (as Mercury is the god of both areas), but also as a time for returning to past connections.

So, Dad, thanks again for the Mercury—though we never, ever managed to keep up with your standards and plans for its cleanliness, we did our best to live up to your dreams of taking adventures in your chariot of choice.

Farewell, oh fleet-footed one—turns out you were just what we needed after all.

Advertisements

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

I was born in the heat of summer but fall—and especially October—is when I most feel at home. I like to think it’s the annual reminder of the day I married my life partner or the explosion of autumnal colors or the cool nights or the rhythm of routine that returns in the fall, but maybe it’s because October is the month when I didn’t die—the month when I was reborn.

I have no memories of what happened that first October of my life—just the subjective tales my mother told me. For most of my life I’d tell you these things that happened to me didn’t matter. Well, other than that ugly long scar on my belly that might have ruined my bikini days if the coloring hadn’t become my own thanks to being only four months younger than I was.

Road Trip 1962

Road Trip 1962

My mother’s stories took on an almost biblical quality. While we trekked across deserts and mountains for what was supposed to be a relaxing autumnal trip to and from the Promised Land of Oregon, little of what I ate stayed with me. Upon our return, it became obvious that travel alone could not explain why I grew so weak. For three days and nights Mom rocked me in her arms, my pharmacist father keeping me hydrated as best he knew. The myth of my stoicism at the time is large but I have no way of proving this wasn’t some tale my mom told herself so she could will me into becoming someone who would not only grow up but also grow up strong and healthy.

That I did, but my near-resurrection from being an inch close to death could not have happened in an earlier era. I don’t remember being whisked from my mother’s arms to an uncertain outcome. In fact, my distance from this major event in my life kept me from realizing, until a few years ago, that I never told doctors I’m missing my appendix, something surgeons removed while they were inside removing the gangrene. For years I’ve told myself that since all that happened to pre-memory Me, it didn’t really matter except for how it affected my parents and how they treated me.

Me, before surgery

Me, before surgery

Wasn’t really until muscle imbalances brought about painful back and hip difficulties that I started looking for more subtle explanations. The more I worked with my yoga instructor and massage therapist, the more I realized that abdominal pain and surgery as well as being restrained or needing breathing help during recovery would have changed how I moved and developed—whether I experienced delayed development or my development modified in other ways to accommodate my unique situation.

Yet, how could I have believed that only my body suffered from those days? Surely there is something primal to fears of pain and mortality in addition to that of being separated from our first caregivers.

Whatever the little infant I was suffered that first October of my life, she also was born again. I can’t tell you the exact date of that rebirth but somehow I think my body knows that October is when it got to start again—for good.

All I know is that whenever the earth starts readying itself for rest, that’s when I feel most renewed and ready for growth.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Keep me as the apple of your eye . . . Psalm 17:5a (NIV)

The minister at our church years ago loved that verse. However, when he would preach on the verse, he talked about how his father was so encouraging that he never made him feel as if he disappointed him. As a parent who did not do such a good job expressing my lack of disappointment toward my own apples of my eye, I felt sad when he said that, even if I knew that maybe his father was the excessively (and over-the-top) good parent on the good cop/bad cop spectrum in his family or that maybe he was a better kid than most of us are. I mean, I disappointed my parents, too. But, still, my kids really are the apples of my eye—even when I disappoint them as a parent and even if they sometimes disappoint me. That people we love disappoint us is normal, but it should be just as normal that we see those whom we love as the apples of our eyes, even if they/we are not engineered to perfection.

This verse takes on more meaning when not taken in the context of these modern times when most of us can get apples during any season, no matter where we live. As a child, I didn’t understand my mother’s obsession with what I considered the sour fruits of her youth: chokecherries, plums, and apricots. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the whys behind stories of how an orange was one of the greatest treats a prairie kid could receive in a Christmas stocking. I thought I knew fruit—until I ate a locally grown apple in Spain. Now that was an apple I will never forget—and most likely the type of apple King David would have referenced in the Bible. A rare, sweet, crunchy treat in a mostly desert region during a time when plants only grew in season—if that year’s conditions supported growth—was a delight.

Every child deserves to have parents who delight in him or her, at least some of the time. And maybe it’s when we are most unlovable and yet our parents keep showing love to us—through their actions—that we most understand just how sweet we are to them. When we wake them in the night with our nightmares or all the messy signs of a sudden illness. When we do not do our chores or homework as asked. When we sass them as only adolescents seeking independence can. When our own adult decisions come to roost.

Parental love is only a shallow emotion if it doesn’t involve the hard work of being there with consistent presence and actions—whether or not we children are bright and shiny apples in the moment or seemingly rotten to the core. This day-in/day-out commitment is what teaches us that we are the apples in our parents’ eyes.

Our minister wasn’t trying to tell me I was a bad parent for seeing the soft spots in the apples—he wanted me to know just how much God loved me, even when I wasn’t being a particularly good apple. God doesn’t walk away from his apples—and neither should we.

But when parents do walk away from their own apples, thank God (yes, really!) that there are others who walk in to tend the orchard—especially when older parents have to remain disappointed in their own apple that has fallen far from their trees, yet still move in to do God’s work to make certain their grandchildren feel like the apples of someone’s eyes.

Bless those little ones who have not always been treated as the apples of their natural parents’ eyes and keep them in the presence of those who know just how precious they are. Every child deserves to be the apple of someone’s eye.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Becoming a mother is so different from the process of un-becoming that full-time, around-the-clock mother you became. One day you’re this individual person just vaguely aware of what it’s going to mean when that purely hypothetical (to your own way of living anyway) child leaves your womb and the next day you are IN CHARGE—of EVERYTHING. This now real world child is depending on you to feed it and keep it safe and for you to figure out what it’s trying to communicate in its nonverbal state. And so you muddle along being in charge, even though this separate being is not you and not even yours in the grand scheme of things.

Oh yes, your children are not your children and they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing itself (paraphrasing Kahlil Gibran), but at first you’re the one who must try to figure out what it is they might possibly need and want. But after a while you were more than happy to try to hand over some of those decisions—because it’s exhausting enough figuring out what you need and want, let alone what someone else needs and wants—until you tried. When “do you want juice or milk?” became a little game of “I want whatever I did not tell you I wanted”, you realized this task of handing off choices was a lot harder than it sounded. If they said they wanted juice, you found out pretty darn quickly that they were likely going to scream for milk when you handed them that juice.

But still, as a parent you are pretty much required to make a lot decisions for many years for these little people who grow into big people. There’s always a tension between helping them too much and helping them too little, no matter the age.

I find myself in the awkward position of being done with that hands-on mothering phase while still living in the same home as my now-adult children. I want to say “it’s the economy, stupid”—but economy or not, that’s a fairly common experience for many of us right now. The truth is they can choose their own milk or juice now, but sometimes I mistake a statement for a request for help and rush in as if it’s up to me to solve the problem.

But it’s not. I just need to stop. It’s not my job to figure out if a grown person wants a solution and I should remember that I probably have little idea what someone who isn’t me really wants or needs.

Besides, just as I am un-becoming my always-on-the-clock motherhood role, my kids are settling into what it means to be IN CHARGE of themselves—and that means figuring out if they want juice or milk—or bourbon for that matter—and doing whatever it takes to make that happen.

(c) 2015 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2015 Sherman Lambert

This May has seemed too busy to be thinking much about the future. Not only was our daughter graduating from college, but she was also putting together a solo art show. My husband spending time with her setting up the exhibit. Check. Our going up for the opening. Check. Getting the house ready (enough) for our graduation visitors and picking them up and spending the day before graduation away from the festivities. Check. Meeting up with our daughter and then watching her graduate before going out for a celebration dinner. Check. Spending the night at a motel and then celebrating some more with her before coming back to our home with our guests. Check. Day of local sight-seeing with guests before taking them to airport. Check. Getting a cold. Check?

Busy times for sure, all in the midst of Mother Nature’s deciding we need a cool, rainy (and snowy if you count Mother’s Day) May as we haven’t seen for a few years. In fact, the road trips to and from the art show opening were so ridiculous that I was starting to expect encounters with the Cyclops, Sirens, and a few other Odyssean-type characters. Luckily graduation weekend weather was less dramatic, although we were told we had just missed the biggest hailstorm of the past 30 years in Estes Park, the location where we spent the night before graduation. Nonetheless, all this “weather” does mean I don’t have to rush to get my plants in the ground—which is good because I haven’t had time to do so anyway.

So many people have asked us, “She’s graduating already?” Sort of funny since she has been in college for five years—and since she had 122 credits last May, but still had 11 remaining required credits that would take her two consecutive semesters and without having a summer option available. Sigh—but this isn’t the post about the systemic problems that led to an extra year of college. This, however, is the post about what’s next.

Not sure in the long term, but in the short term she’s taking two “practical” courses at the local community college this summer to shore up her graphic design skills and to add website design to what she can do. She’s applying for jobs in the usual ways, plus through connections of mine, she has some future visits at a nearby large logo-based sportswear company and a local art gallery. She’s selling embellished baby shoes and getting contracts for custom designs on adult shoes. Also—and this is a really big deal—the quality and quantity of the work at her solo show recently brought her toughest college professor to tears. Her arts entrepreneurship professor critiqued her website and stated that, of all the visual artists the woman has taught, so far she is the one most poised for commercial success, thanks to her versatility. While the “world” is telling our daughter a BFA in studio art is crazy, she’s receiving very positive feedback that shows she does have the ability to at least supplement her income, and possibly create her income herself, by making art.

For now this likely means she’ll be back home with us for awhile while she figures out just how she is going to support herself—which is not so different from other recent college graduates, especially in the metro-Denver area where the most recently reported rent rates are averaging around $1200 monthly.

We haven’t even helped her move home yet but she’s here now. After a couple nights of decent sleep, she goes back to her college home to begin packing up her goods that somehow we are going to have to squeeze back into this house. Of course, we will all have to deal with more than “stuff” when she returns—as we learn how to be a four-person household again and as she learns how to live under our roof again after being on her own—and we all learn what it means to live together when everyone here is an adult.

As a family, we’ve reached a crossroads. The road signs don’t really provide a clear direction for which way she should turn in order to discover the best way to be able to leave for good. But no doubt about it, she is finally on her own way—even if she doesn’t know—yet—where she’s going.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

My dogs have watched the old morning glory vine with fascination, ever since they figured out the sounds and smells they detected come from birds—clever birds that hid the nest behind a tangle of old vines. Even I can’t see any birds if I look from the side closest to the door.

Each year, at least one pair of finches graces our lawn with songs from the clothesline or trellis or wires strung above our yard, although some years we never discover where they build their nests. Most of the years they choose well, although there have been a few disasters, such as the time they built a nest on loose wood that moved with the winds or low in a trellis that our former English Springer Spaniel could head butt.

The current two spaniels normally let birds flit and flutter around the yard unimpeded, but the constant sounds coming from that hidden nest seem just too tempting for them to ignore. Sam stands on two paws, sniffing with delight in the general direction, while Furgus settles in the grass watching.

I am not comfortable with supporting this habit—circle of life or not. My dogs have a healthy diet of quality (read: expensive) prepared food and also con us out of table scraps from time to time. Their health does not depend upon eating little birds. Any time they get too obsessed and I can’t distract them from their subjects of interest, I bring them in.

Today, as I looked out the window (currently screen-less in order to aid in our own bird-watching views) I saw both Mr. and Mrs. Finch hovering, almost hummingbird-like around the nest. Usually they take turns visiting and feeding their squeaky little offspring. One would dance toward the nest and fly back and then the other would swoop in. But today, little flutters of wings answered in response from the nest.

Suddenly I realized those formerly fuzzy-headed and barely covered little birds, now seem feathered-out, so to speak. It’s almost time. Wow, that was quick. Wasn’t it just one of the most recent cold snaps (with snow!) when they broke out of their shells? These little finches seem destined to take the most important steps (flights) of their journeys during Colorado’s flakiest spring weather days.

On this cool and rainy morning, those birds are getting ready to fly away from the nest.

What a metaphor the finch babies give me this day when we will soon attend our daughter’s solo art exhibit opening. Next week she graduates from college, but this week she shares a tangible view into the work from her hands, mind, and heart. Our baby is getting ready to fly and we are so proud of not only how well she has developed and strengthened the talent with which she seems to have been born, but also how she persevered through many dark and stormy days—and yet still is seeking flight—just like the finch babies outside on our porch.

No wonder the songs of Mr. and Mrs. Finch resonate outside my window and fill the yard with such joyful noise.

Though our yard hosts hazards such as spaniels and the occasional visiting cat or hawk, the Finches still sing with the joy of what comes next. The babies in the nest are safer from outside threats, but if they stayed, they would soon wither from lack of movement—and they’d never know what it’s like to soar—a glorious feeling despite all the risks.

Fly, little birdies, fly—the world is waiting for you, too, to fill your surroundings with your own joyful noises.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

As your kids grow—even when they aren’t away from home—you know less and less about their lives—as is right. You see some of their successes as well as their fumblings, but you often don’t spend a lot of time with them.

When you notice them moving in a good direction, you cheer the possibilities. Like me, my son gets great benefit from physical activities, and I’ve enjoyed watching his growth—both physical and mental—from his participation in martial arts over the last several months. Thanks to this practice, we’ve seen less and less of him around our home lately.

That is, until last month, when his head got injured at work. Since then he’s had to take a hiatus from the physical aspects of his martial arts, as well as from his sometime weekend gig as well as from working full days at his regular job.

The news is full of the long-term effects from head injuries these days with more information available about the difficulties all levels of athletes are experiencing from previous concussions. I was raised by a mother who had a head injury with effects that lingered for her lifetime so I do understand many of the concerns surrounding the distant future.

But what I didn’t understand was just how much a seemingly minor head injury affects someone in the short term.

My son is receiving care under Worker’s Compensation for his injury. At first he was released to full-time work but with physical reductions. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that focusing at work for the normal time period led to excruciating headaches that chased him into a dark room post-work. His maximum allowed work hours were reduced to five a day.

Although he feels much better with more rest, he is not healed and it is not clear how long it will be until he is. He is so frustrated that he can neither perform to his own standards at work nor do the activities he likes, such as the martial arts and snow skiing. Plus, he feels the clock ticking as work and friends wonder why he isn’t better yet. Trust me, so does he.

He is being seen by medical professionals who are searching for that answer. Despite what some have said, I’m not cynical enough to believe they would drag out the process just to make money. That doctor’s office today was plenty busy with people who were there on private insurance. In fact, if I’m cynical at all, it’s because some people I know have received sub-standard care from worker’s comp providers. So far I don’t feel that either case is true for him.

I hate being so aware of the costs for this—I know that workplace injuries like this can drive up premiums for small businesses. If I could I would have suggested he receive care all along on our insurance to avoid all that—but that’s not how the systems function. He didn’t get hurt doing martial arts or putting up Christmas lights at home or walking down the street, for that matter—he got hurt while doing his job, working a position that is physical enough to have some risk of workplace injuries.

All I know is he’d rather be working full-time and continuing his moonlighting position and growing in his martial arts and going skiing with us and just living his everyday life. Instead, he’s had rest imposed on him—which is tough at any age, let alone at 22.

My mother’s heart hurts that he has to put his life on hold and that his body has been damaged. “Stuff” happens in everyone’s lives but that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to someone you love.

He’s young and time is on his side, but, for now, time is moving way too slowly for him. As my mother-in-law always says during tough times, this too shall pass. Guess we’ll just have to enjoy how his slowed down pace gives us more time to pass with him.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

For the last few months before I gave birth to my children—twins who would arrive in the beginning of June—our weather was unseasonably warm here in Colorado. But in California the world was on fire, but not due to wildfires or droughts. Los Angeles had erupted over the news that four white cops had been acquitted of beating Rodney King—a beating that had been videotaped and released to the media—in the previous year. In many ways, the King video was the introduction to a whole new populist way of promoting social justice even as it also promoted social unrest. People no longer needed to rely on journalists witnessing events for news to be shared all over the world.

Still, people only see what they want to see. Some people saw a person who broke the law and thus really didn’t have the right to complain while others saw a man who had broken the law but who in no way had done anything to bring on the type of violence he received. And in the aftermath, some people could only see the black men who beat the white truck driver—for no particular reason—at the same time they could not see the white men in positions of authority who had severely beaten a black man—for no particular reason.

Look, I personally am going to claim my own white privilege here because throughout my life I have discovered more and more situations I never had to experience, simply based upon the color of my skin. And growing up where I did, first in rural Nebraska and later in a larger town still fairly removed from the race relations found in urban centers, everything about race was pretty theoretical to me. However, as my awareness grew, I tried to root out more of my own inherent racism, especially as I was shocked to discover it in more blatant forms in others whom I generally respected.

Then I went off to my seemingly ivory tower college in Ohio where one of my first actions was to fall in love with an incredible man who happened to be black and not of any privileged background at all—lest you count his close-knit family and his faith tradition, which he did. So many of the things he told me of race relations were new to me, yet he was a peacemaker who got along with all types of people, even most of his roughest (white) football teammates. Still, at that ivory tower, we didn’t really experience any pushback from our being together.

If my life had followed the course I had wanted at that time I would be the mother of biracial children and the spouse of someone outside my race, so I can never really view race relations as theoretical anymore. And though he has long been dead, I tend to think of how certain racial situations would affect him—not as the minor lawbreaker some of these young men have been, but as a law-abiding citizen under suspicion for no other reason than because of his race.

A few years after the riots in California, another law-abiding citizen we know experienced what I see all sorts of people (white) on Facebook denouncing as either a myth or inconsequential: racial profiling by law enforcement. The young man who was my husband’s assistant came from Chicago but I think even he was lulled into thinking these sorts of things didn’t really happen that often in Denver. One day he received his paycheck and—clothed in dress pants and a good shirt with no tie—went straight to the grocery store to cash his whole paycheck. Then, with all that money in his pocket, he stopped off at the liquor store before heading home. As he drove away on a major street, flashing lights appeared behind him. He pulled over and was dragged out of his vehicle and thrown roughly to the ground in the broad daylight of an early summer’s evening. The fact he matched some vague description of someone they were seeking and the fact he had a large sum of money on his body meant he was treated with great suspicion—and when I say suspicion, I think most of the questioning was meted out with brute force and intimidation. Somehow he finally convinced them to listen but not before he was reminded that he was indeed a black man and that his education and intent and actions really didn’t matter first in his dealings with law enforcement.

Little by little the veneer of believing that my experience is no different than that of someone of another race has been stripped from me—and my knowledge of what’s on the Internet has undone my initial beliefs even faster. I have to acknowledge that racism is much greater than I knew if even white, suburban, privileged high school boys can feel comfortable saying what they said the night President Obama was first elected.

See, part of the point is my white privilege really has allowed me not to know or experience certain things. But once we see and hear those things with our own eyes and ears, how can we still not believe?

Since when do we in the United States say it’s OK to kill people for shoplifting or selling illegal cigarettes or being disrespectful to authority? We have a justice system where people should be charged for the crimes of which they are accused, and only after the proper following of procedures and once those people are determined guilty of those charges can they be convicted. These truths should be true whether or not you are rich or poor or connected or not or black or white or a general scumbag or not. In this country none of us is supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner—not even law enforcement officials. Let justice roll down like water—not fire.

I don’t condone looting and burning, but can you understand just a little bit of the rage of never, ever being seen for who you are and what you do, no matter what? No, in some ways I can’t at all understand it because that shoe is usually not on my foot.

But I’m trying—and will continue to do so the rest of my days. I had expected to bring my own children into a better world than the one that turned out to be burning in the weeks before their births. Nonetheless, I am so proud they have grown to be people who really do judge others by the color of their characters, not by the color of their faces. Those of us who do “see” must join together in that ever-flowing stream of mighty righteousness, workers for justice striving to quench these fires. Let justice roll down—indeed.

2014 Sherman Lambert photo of sidewalk chalk art

2014 Sherman Lambert photo of sidewalk chalk art

Years ago—almost two decades ago—my husband Sherman and I attended classes at church based on a series of short stories and essays—more often secular than not—where readers were challenged to hear God in the words, even if the author had no intention of addressing God from a faith tradition. Over time we studied all four volumes in the Listening for God series.

I liked the classes. They reminded me of the “Portraits of Jesus” class I had taken in order to meet the religious course requirement at my college. I wouldn’t have signed up for the course, but I was studying abroad and had to rely on my fairly unconventional advisor to register me for the next term. I was surprised he had chosen this class for me after receiving my instructions where I told him to find me something different since “I had gone to church and Sunday School all my life.”

But, boy was I wrong about what that course was about. The first day of class the professor handed each of us a sheet of paper with various facial features for us to cut and paste into a portrait of who we thought Jesus was. Dr. Wolff presented Jesus in the varying Christian gospels, from readings from other faiths, and through all sorts of secular literature and movies where we looked for the Christ figure. He did not tell us what to think though I knew for a fact he attended a Lutheran church close to campus. Surprise, surprise, but at the end of the course I still thought Jesus was the guy I was taught he was while growing up, even though a bit grittier and more nuanced.

Our church is revisiting the Listening for God story series and this time Sherman is taking turns teaching the course with the woman who originally taught it back in the 90s. Sadly, since I sing in choir now I can’t attend most classes, but I’m still re-reading the stories so I can work with him as he ponders the coursework.

What I realize is that these stories are much darker to me now than they were the first time around. I and the world have changed. I see depths I could not see then—I am not quite the sunny optimist I must have been years ago. Is this part of the natural process of aging or have my own life experiences dimmed my ability to read with a more objective eye?

Frederick Buechner’s words in “The Dwarves in the Stable,” an excerpt from his autobiographical Telling Secrets hit me hard, especially now that they were so personal to me. In it he discussed a time in his life when his daughter was dangerously anorexic and how trapped he felt in his fear. He compared himself to C. S. Lewis’ dwarves who cannot accept the food and drink offered by the lion Aslan (of the Chronicles of Narnia) because they are so afraid that they cannot see love when it is offered.

“Perfect love casteth out fear,” John writes (1 John 4:18), and the other side of that is that fear like mine casteth out love, even God’s love. The love I had for my daughter was lost in the anxiety I had for my daughter.

This time I really got what he meant when he stated, “My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.” Maybe it was the daughter part—which I now understand to my core having lived something similar—but somehow in earlier days I hadn’t connected with how fear—of anything—drives out God’s love. Maybe all fear for me pales compared to the fear for a loved one’s life.

Oh, the darkness was always in the stories but now I know fear much more personally. Unlike Buechner, though, apparently I have not done enough of the hard work of putting aside my fear in order to receive the love freely given to me.

That God’s love is greater than fear and darkness is a lesson I seem to have forgotten. As I once read those stories from a place of innocence and light, my bigger task now seems to be re-learning to see the light that is also in all those stories—and all around me.

Fear not, indeed. And so I renew my search for light—and continue listening for God.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

So now to explain what’s right about how we interact with our mostly grown/grown children and their friends these days. I am not always as cranky as my recent post on the topic might have led you to believe. Though I continue to believe there is a lot of vulnerability in the informal relations these days between generations, I also know that if I really wanted to keep the stronger boundaries of earlier times, I would do so. Just as there are negatives to our squishy relations, there are positives.

For one thing, the more time we spend in fellowship with people of different ages, the more we understand the perspectives of people who are not our age peers. It’s easier to stereotype and minimize the concerns of others when you keep your distance—no matter your age. However, the world is not just made up of people at one stage of life; the better we understand one another, the better we are at creating a society that works for different kinds of people facing different kinds of stresses.

But for another, why limit your interactions to those who are just like you? By mixing only with your own age group you might be missing out on enjoyable times with people who—who knew?—are enjoyable too.

There’s some good that comes from acting silly, even for those of us who have long been the grown-ups in the room. And to do that with our kids and their friends can be a joy. Growing up and being grown up takes a lot of energy for anyone dealing with the hard facts of life, whether young or old. Is it any wonder that both sides are prone to exacerbating the friction by resorting to an “us vs. them” mentality?

Whether or not the kids or their parents are all right I can’t say, but we’ll never know if they (we) never spend time together. Mea culpa for suggesting there was no middle ground.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 606 other followers

Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert