Monday, November 17, 2014

Margins: Dinner for a family at five

I have been fighting for a while now. Fighting to keep us all fed. Fighting to carve notches of space from the hardwood of our days. Fighting to not suffocate under the dailiness of living.

Take note: I know depression, and I am not depressed. I have the strength and the sleep reserves and the space to fight in the first place. But the fighting I’ve been doing has been, at times, pathetic. It has been limp-wristed, weak-armed, uncoordinated, and half-assed. And I'm done with that.

I have two versions of my life: The version where taking the time to make pizza feels expansive. I gather all the ingredients. I let the dough rise. Time shoots up and spreads like a veritable fountain of youth, bubbling, making every second new and shining and beautiful. And then there is the version of my life where I give in to hurriedness and efficiency, and even getting takeout is too time-consuming and messy. Dinner is empty and so is my fridge, and I stay where I was before dinner: lost in avoiding the daily and trying to paw my way out of a glass bowl. Every expected squeal from my children is a scratching on the surface of my spinal cord.

When Kevin’s aunt was here this past summer we talked about what we thought we brought to the world. What was our one gift. She talked about being a smile, and though it seemed natural to me for her to say this, she said the concept to her was new, and strange, but right.

And I told her about peace. She was gentle. She said I seem to be searching for peace and longing for it, but that I'm not exactly the one who helps it along.

This is where I laugh, in spite of myself. Too true. Too true.

What do I keep hearing? Lean into what terrifies you. And also, be aware of what you crave most. For me: I crave peace, and the mundane terrifies me. Chaos, too. And boredom, which is simply the mundane divorced from gratitude. Just recently I read an old journal of mine. I had been writing about having children. My fear, I wrote, was that life would become boring. And I interpret: That the mundane would become mundane, that the meditation of daily rhythms would lose its meaning.

Some people, I think, thrive by doing the straightforward tasks of life. Some people I know seem to do dailiness well. They make it beautiful. They give dailiness space. They give dinner the time of day. They pace themselves, and in the process they redeem it. In short, they don't fight at all - they give in. Give thanks. And give themselves over to the process.

What I often forget is how to meet dailiness with respect, and grace. Grace. It is welcomed and needed, not just in the extreme. It is also at home in the in-between, in the tepid waters where fire melts ice, in the sea-level flat-lands of this sprawled-out valley where I live my days. Daily life. Daily dinner. Dinner for a family at five.


  1. I keep my daily, from wake up to the end, as relational as possible...if I do it, I do it ultimately for someOne...and the gift that gets me where I am comfortable with even starting is 'motivation', and motivation encourages creativity and completion in me. If it starts well it's because someOne has motivated me; if it ends well (and Who know if it will) that's a bonus appreciated ~ all in between, if I am paying attention, is relational. Thanks, Amanda, for causing me to think about this! oxm

    1. Thanks, Merrily. Motivation is a powerful, grounding force, and the daily as relational, well, that is an obstacle I guess. One to grow on.