a first for me . . .

so basically, i have spent the last two years of my life in prenatal care land. appointments, ultrasounds, glucose tests. last year of course, it was for my own sweet t who eventually made her appearance in january. and just as i finished up the last of my postpartum visits, one of my friends, one of my language teachers found out that she was pregnant. in fact that she was already several months pregnant when she found out.

so, we went to prenatal visits together, to ultrasounds together. she had a uncomfortable pregnancy, but nothing dangerous. and this baby was due last week. naturally, baby girl didn’t come when the calendar thought she should.

so when she texted in the middle of the night yesterday to tell me she was in labor (gratefully, t woke me up because she was gassy, otherwise, i might have missed it!) i was excited! of course! it’s time! i picked up my bff the doula/painter/community organizer/yoga awesome-er/has too many jobs to list and off we went to see how things were moving along.

and thus began the day at 2:30 am.

she was a champ! she worked so hard, even though she was exhausted, she stayed with us, she trusted us, even though she wanted to run away so badly. i wept with so much grief for all she has endured in her life and then enduring labor with grace and faith. it was so amazing to be a part of her journey like that.

and that is really what i am feeling this morning: how amazing it is to be invited to join in another’s journey. it is a great honor to be sacredly entrusted with the vulnerability and tender terror that rises in us when we do not understand our lives.

and the truth is a birth is only a well illuminated metaphor for this phenomena. every day, we are all given this trust by people in our lives, sometimes even by complete strangers.

it was a great privilege. one i will never forget.

and of course, at the last moment, when she thought she could do no more, this lovely lady arrived (see pic below), full of fierce grace and beauty.

as we sad goodbye to her last night, sixteen hours from our first texting, she hugged us and thanked us for being there with her. her heart was full of a new baby and gratitude. and then i thanked her for the honor of trusting me to walk with her.

my friend doesn’t believe me yet. that it was an honor to walk through those sixteen hours of her life with her. it’s okay, i didn’t believe it either the first time someone told me that about the hard thing i walked through. but maybe i am catching on.

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prepare yourself, there’s going to be some whining

arabic is hard. but not the way you are thinking. my new teacher is a sweet lady who sounds like she understands a lot of english, but then asks me random words sometimes that i think surely she would know (like “knock on the door”). anyway, i like her very much and to add to the mix, she has three small little ones. and some days, i can tell that she is struggling to like her life in any way. she says the kids give her a headache. i totally get that, mine often give me one too.

but it is more than just that. it is the life she is given, taking care of kids, cleaning and cooking and being at home. she says she doesn’t mind, but i can sort of tell that she does. it is both prescribed for her and selected by her, if only because she has no idea another way is possible.

i never regret being a feminist. but there are days when it is easier than others to believe that empowering women will elevate a society.

so i keep going back. i must press into arabic. but i expected to struggle with more language and not so much the relational aches. maybe i was just naive.

tree streets and other treasures

i love the tree street sales in johnson city with my whole heart.

there are four or five streets there, side by side, with names of trees (walnut, pine, etc) and every fall the whole neighborhood has a yard sale for a whole weekend.  and it goes on for blocks and blocks and blocks.  up and down these streets.  so many treasures.

anyway, i try to go every year if i can.  and i got to go yesterday and it was marvelous.  even t had a good time.  when she got tired, she started to sound like a bear, and i laid the stroller seat back, and she passed out.  easiest nap times ever.

i didn’t actually come home with that many treasures yesterday.  but rather just the experience of walking and seeing.  touching antiques, enjoying the beauty.  and for me, that was treasure enough.

a mandala

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this tree hovers over the edge of a lake, i believe. the belly is full of nests, sparrows and finches, each one tucked into tiny nooks of the bark. the tree leans and sways in the breeze, but is held firmly to the bank, by deep roots that go on forever.

when i think about her, i am sad. she works so hard and tries to raise those kids with good manners and sharp minds. how do i tell her that less is more? we break bread together so often, that i forget that her eyes are still blind. she can’t believe me when i tell her there’s good news. without anything to worry about, what will she do? she sobs in my arms, released from the stress, even for just a minute. the next worry creeps in, a rat stealing eggs from my tree.

our tree, the one you and i built together, hovers over the deep waters and harbors those souls, a few sacred minutes at a time.

learning to love