this week…

April 30, 2012

well, last week, but you know…

What a week it was! …and on to the next. I will be emceeing the Spirit of Volunteerism of Hanover County Awards Ceremony tomorrow night, please be sure to say hello if you happen to be there!

I know I’ve told you about our little street commune…it’s the sweetest community. You can read about some of the magic here, here and here. Well…one of our own is leaving, and we are so, so sad. Billy is playful and so kind, Heather is tender, open and giving…and it’s no surprise that my children adore them. I got a chance to spend a little bit of time with them before they left to take all that goodness to Louisiana…boy are those new neighbors so lucky! We’ll miss you guys!

post hurricane truth

My PTSD sort of sets in at the mere mention of a tropical storm. I grew up in sunny south Florida and lived in Homestead when Hurricane Andrew rolled through all those years ago. So much has changed since then, I live 1,000 miles away, I have babies of my own to protect, I know that storms, even in all their destruction, bring people together…and when there is fear in your heart, every invitation of love is a good idea.

It started with a food conversation, I guess storms and food have that one thing in common. We decided that at 5pm all who wanted to would gather, Jen (the mayor of the street commune and neighborhood)  would make her famous curry soup and naan. Yes, six batches of naan should be enough, although there really can never be too much naan.  I spent the day running to help with naan, making breakfast casserole and puppy chow while kids played their own version of monopoly with tiny stuffed animals. There were lots of rules to follow.

When the wind picked up and the sky grew dark, the naan and Irene worked their magic and 30 people, (neighbors, dear friends and family who just happened to be visiting, grandparents seeking higher ground, etc.) gathered in one house to ride out the storm together. Somehow happy chaos found her way into the storm…along with some piano playing, a shot of vodka and the holy breakin’ of igniting glow sticks. Everyone bringing their own light in some way.

I looked around and wished everyone had this sort of community, because the truth is life is full of all kinds of storms…what if each one were greeted with such love? I imagine we all would be doing a helluva lot better. We woke up to lots of trees down, some on our street, damaging the houses of the people we care about and live with. It seemed like the only perfect response was to do what we knew from the night before. So we set a long beautiful table with linens and flowers, right in the middle of the street and all the destruction…and ate naan cakes.

We all decided that when the power is gone you should just empty your refrigerator and eat like kings! The morning turned into day, someone brought out Balderdash and beer, the kids played in the street and I chalked what I know to be true over and over again…if ever there was a perfect storm, it was this one.

Jack, February 2011

This boy and his bike…there was a deep love. I completely get it. The wind blowing on your face, going faster than your legs can take you, all of boyhood in its perfect freedom. I knew it was gonna be bad. I came home late Monday night to find our gate wide open, 2 boys bikes gone. They hadn’t been locked, I guess we felt so at home, guards were down….or maybe there were never any guards up and we are at home in every way, I dunno. I told him gently but he very dramatically ran to the porch just to make sure it was true. He burst into tears…it was the saddest cry from an 8 year old you’ve ever heard.

“I just don’t understand mom, why? Why would someone take my bike from me? I loved that bike so much mom, it was the one I learned to ride on. We had so, so many good times…” he went on remembering. His view of the world was rocked.

I didn’t care too much about the bikes, they were thrift store specials. One really good find (a Trek) but even that bike was too small for him now. My head goes straight to – the need must have been great to take them, on whatever level. And it’s just stuff, right? This is the story I tried to tell my boy to soothe his wounds, and he looked like he was trying to take it in…but it doesn’t change the fact that you are sad and disappointed.  I didn’t even try to take that away, because so often grief is a friend to us in times like these. It means we care and love…even for simple things like bicycles and memories.

I looked at the sidewalk art Lyra and I made on the morning the bikes were stolen. This Way To Love… and maybe my invitation was clear, if this was what someone needed- love, in whatever form. Every now and then I start to wonder if I live in a Kindness Wonderland (a la Alice), a place I have created in my head and heart. The one that Pollyanna dances in, far from cynicism and darkness, one that believes over and over again the good, that kindness can be found, no matter what. Sometimes, this way does require you to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast…and then there are moments when I start to wonder if I just fell down the hole, I must be mad.

Mad or not, my children will have to decide for themselves, and even I couldn’t blame them for any conclusions they were making that day. We walked to the park but that just reminded him of more riding adventures. We came home and he cried some more, it was so heartbreaking.  Less than an hour later there was a knock at the door.

I opened the door and literally gasped. The whole street, men, women, kids, babies, with the same gates wide open and gathered ’round stood there with two new bikes…and now I was the one who burst into tears.

They said they wanted Jack to know the world was still good. …and my world was rocked. That people would love my family this way, that the impossible thought of great kindness was real, that we would be humbled and so deeply touched by it…over and over again, that any shred of doubt would be replaced with such assurance, stronger than before. The fact that we get to live next to these people, side by side, every day- this is the greatest kindness.

We didn’t know how we could ever thank them, although Jack suggested ding dong ditching them his entire savings, we settled on some homemade chocolate chip cookies and thank you notes. When all was said and done, Jack told me he thought in the end maybe everyone got what they needed- the person who took his bike, his lesson about the world and his new bike, and our family.

…and I’m pretty sure I know the way to love, thank you to our street for reminding me, it’s all right here, Wonderland and all.

first day chalk– don’t worry it’s coming soon…

Something new is always a little bit scary and exciting.
The first bag lunch of the year is always the best.
You look GREAT!
Some mom, grandmother, papa, dad, auntie is looking at the clock and thinking of you all day long, wondering how you are.
Everyone is learning and growing.
Making a world outside of your family or the familiar is good and also may take some time, but it’s worth it.
If something pops up that is hard, it’s okay, you will find your way…you will do this over and over again, all the way through life.
You are not alone.
Love is everywhere.
You are so loved.


sometimes before you have to go out to do something really hard, love takes you under her wing and…

prepares a new table to feast at with large forks and lots of children

brings you new friends with kind eyes and listening ears

surrounds you with soulful art, and a wall of images of divine truth 

feeds you rich lasagna with homemade noodles, made to comfort you 

fills you with the vibrance of life

reminds you what you will return to…what you will lean on, where your heart can rest.

The First Secret Garden Supper of the Season…

On the menu:

(by Papa Cris and the Party Wagon of Kindness)

Watermelon Mojitos
Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Spanish Rice with Chipotle Sour Cream
Personal Nachos with Cheddar
Caramel and Chocolate Ice Cream cones

and a truckload of super family love…and a few fireflies.