Grateful Mama; Happy Kids and Chapter 6 of Out of the Wilderness adventure with our favorite character-Hopeful!
I don't know about you but lately I've been feeling more and more in love with my kids, so grateful that I am able to have my daughter near me as she "goes to school" online. I know that the situation isn't ideal on paper but knowing that she is nearby and safe, and with me... That I get to "keep her" to myself a bit longer... that is priceless. She will get out into the world soon enough, stretching her wings, leaving me behind for a season as she immerses herself into the next chapter of her life.
They grow up so fast.
Soon enough, far too soon, she will no longer be near me. I will not be able to see her whenever I want to or have her call me at five minute intervals. The house will be a bit too quiet. I will be walking around with a piece of my heart missing.
She will grow up too fast just like we all did, go off to college... if I ever let her leave my sight. I hope she stays in state and lives at home! I know I am being dramatic but we all know that's the reality of life. Every year, they are nearer to that fateful day when they no longer need us nearby...
Just thinking about that transition makes one hurt like !$%@! Whatever that word is for you.
So, yes, I am grateful that she is still at home. That she's not out there somewhere, learning her ABC's but nearby, in the kitchen. That she still yells out to me that she loves me in the middle of her lessons.
So, I will treasure these bonus moments together. They may be messy as I plead with her to sit in one place, not to move around the house, not to show everyone me in my robe with messy hair and mess like I just don't care.
These are the moments that I didn't plan on but will surely remember.
I am so grateful that Michael gets to have Maya all to himself a bit longer, their bond growing stronger and stronger.
Being in this zone of gratitude gives me the strength to face the challenges of today.
Our kids need us right now to be strong, to not shirk our responsibilities in self-preservation mode.
Let's be thankful right now for what we do have and learn through the times we don't want.
Blessings to you all!
On another note, hope you are enjoying the adventures of Hopeful!
Let's see what she encounters today as Confusion leads the way!
It was very strange for me to see that Confusion lead us in a very unpredictable, chaotic way to the destination, which would have taken us three times faster to get there if we simply walked straight from point A to point B.
Finally, we reached a painful scene. A man was lying on the ground next to a very tall barn. It looked like the barn was still in the middle of construction. People were everywhere, watching, murmuring, children were crying. Even the animals were loud and obnoxious.
This was a scene filled with disorder, anxiety and distress.
The Prophet began to run towards the man on the ground. I followed.
As we drew near, I could see that the man was in a bad state. Blood was everywhere. His limbs were in unnatural positions. A woman in fancy clothing was on her knees, crying and holding onto one of his hands.
The man was silent, motionless, and very pale.
“What happened here?” the Prophet looked at the wife for an explanation.
“My husband, Son of Greed, said to me, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry”’ (Luke 12:18-19). And I did nothing to stop him. He was working on extending this big barn that you see, making it taller and grander when he fell of the roof and onto this place where he is right now. Oh God! What will I do as a widow?”
She began to wail and tear at her clothes.
The Prophet looked at her with sorrow in his eyes. “I prayed that this would be the message I would not have to deliver, but I must. This is what God is saying, ‘You fool, this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” (Luke 12:20).
He rose up and shouted for all the people to hear, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
He looked at the wife, tears streaming down his face, his stature filled with compassion. “Make him comfortable, for tonight he will move on from this life. Pray your prayers of salvation.”
Then he turned around and with decisive steps moved out of that scene, past all the silent and stunned people.
I picked up the items that he left behind and ran after him until I reached the old man. I slowed down my pace, knowing instinctively that he wanted to be left alone.
Walking behind him, I was burdened not only with the items I was holding, but also with the weight I sensed that he was carrying. It was not a physical weight.
When we got to his tent, I stopped, not sure if I could go in yet, but he turned around and motioned for me to enter. He took the staff, the Book and the bag from me, pulled out a chair and motioned for me to sit down. He drank some water as he looked out the window, contemplating. Returning to the Book, he searched for something, having found it, he pointed towards a particular verse, gave me a pen and paper, and told me to copy it until I could recall it by memory. Having done so, the Prophet went out of the tent, telling me quietly that he will be back soon.
I went on to write fifty times, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
It was around lunchtime, and this time, I decided that I would serve the old man by preparing us a meal. I was never very good at preparing food as my mother never wanted me in the kitchen. It wasn’t really her fault. My father’s room was near the kitchen and he would often get cross if we got in his way. To keep the peace, my mom would often tell us to get out of her domain.
The Prophet only ate fresh food, prepared each day from scratch. He knew the exact portions and sizes. Watching him prepare food was like watching an artist paint. Everything was precise, filled with reason and meaning.
I looked around the tent and his storage areas, but besides lentils and grains, there was nothing else to eat. No vegetables or fruit. No meat or bread.
At any other time before, I would’ve felt hopeless, but today I was full of hope. I knew I needed to find Helper.
I ran outside, fully expecting to find him right there, waiting for me as he tended to do so often, showing up exactly when I needed to him.
At that time, I didn’t know where he lived so I shouted out his name over and over again. A lady came out of one of the tents, on the other side of the clearing in front of me. She was very old and very bent over, with a wooden staff in one of her hands.
“Stop your shouting, Miss. I am his grandmother and right now Helper is helping the family of the Son of Greed. He is helping with the arrangements. Such a mature little man he is.” Pride filled her words.
“What do you need? Perhaps I can help you out instead? Come over here, child.”
I ran to her, slightly disconcerted.
Once I got over to where she was, the old lady introduced herself as Compassion, telling me that she was happy for my company as she was so often left alone, completely forgotten if it weren’t for Helper. She and Helper were apparently very close.
“I may not be much to look at now,” she said, “but in my day I was quite a looker. Everyone wanted to know me. I was the talk of the town. But enough about me, what is it that you need?”
I shared my dilemma with her. She asked me, “What do you grow in your Secret Place?”
“Thus far, I’ve only planted tulips.”
“You need to cultivate everything that you need in your Secret Place. That is where you get your nourishment. Saplings and seeds will then be taken from your special place and brought out into the world. You will then plant them in a patch assigned to you. Let me show you where your patch is.”
She took me out to the Common Gardens and showed me the plot labeled Hopeful, which was right next to the Prophet’s allotted land. His piece of land was thriving, organized and very dense with fruit and vegetables. He had a few small sheds on the property as well. Other people’s plots were not in such great condition. Some were as dry as the desert, the earth scorched and cracked. Those people must be starving, I thought.
I thanked Compassion for her help. She smiled, invited me for tea, and then slowly walked back home.
As I had nothing yet on my plot, I turned towards the Prophet’s land, and hoping he would not be upset, I began to gather provisions into a couple of baskets that I found on his property. After I gathered the fruit and the vegetables, I walked into one of the sheds and found chickens. I proceeded to gather a few eggs. I then walked over to the other shed and found that it contained wine. I grabbed a small bottle, hoping to cheer him up a bit after his distressing morning.
Walking back home, carrying the load, was no easy feat. I probably grabbed too many things but as I still had no idea what I was going to create, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a little too much rather than not enough. The gardens back home were never this lush. The Prophet did a great job cultivating his land. I had a lot to learn from him on so many levels. I hoped that we would have enough time together for me to glean from him the layers of wisdom he carried.
I entered the village and bumped into Mirth. Her eyes were full of tears. Her usual cheerful countenance was filled with grief.
I set the food down and hugged her tightly as she began to cry.
“I go to school with the children of the Son of Greed. I feel so sorry for them that I cannot rest. I must be doing something every second, otherwise my pity for them rises and rises and I just don’t know what to do with myself!” she sobbed into my shoulder.
As a means of distracting her, I invited Mirth to join me as I attempted to prepare lunch for the Prophet. Grateful for my invitation, Mirth picked up one of the baskets and refused to give it back to me. Smiling through her tears, she poked me gently in the ribs and said, “Now, let’s see what a great cook you are.”
Upon entering the tent, we dropped off the baskets onto the wooden, gnarled table, on the left side of the doorway. I found a few buckets and began to wash the produce.
I’ve searched the Prophet’s bookshelves before for any sign of cookbooks or recipes, but nevertheless, deciding that a fresh pair of eyes may find something that I had missed, I invited Mirth to assist me.
We weren’t that lucky.
Mirth finally gave up and joined me by the table where I placed all the possible utensils, cups, and bowls, that I thought I might need. I concluded that I may as well keep it simple: an easy salad, a fresh bowl of fruit and an entrée of potatoes with a few herbs. The less ingredients, the better, I thought. Less chance for something to go wrong.
We began to cut and prepare the salad together. I decided to keep things light and positive. Instead of focusing on what was going wrong that day, I wanted to focus on what was going right.
“Mirth, look at me, I am such a great cook! I can wash and cut vegetables! This is so easy.”
She giggled and looked at me with pity. Shaking her head, she proceeded to state that I should see her mom, who apparently is an amazing cook and that no one bakes a better cake than she does.
“If I lived with an amazing cook,” I said, “I’d be as big as a hot air balloon, ready to pop at any moment.”
That made the little girl laugh and I was so happy to see her being a child again. Innocent and carefree. She reminded me of my little sister that I had to leave behind. She, too, had an innocent and mischievous smile at the very same time. Her laughter would bubble up like a brook. She was fire and ice, but her spirit was very gentle. Her soul was very fragile. I missed my little sister very much at that moment.
After we prepared the salad, we set the table, adding to it a bountiful wooden bowl of fruit. I cut the potatoes and began to prepare them on the stove, adding oil every so often to make sure they wouldn’t burn and stick to the pan.
I found a vase in one of the cupboards. Mirth volunteered to find me some wild flowers for the centerpiece.
Everything was coming along very smoothly.
While she was gone, I meandered over to one of the bookshelves, and picking out an interesting read, got so caught up in the story that I completely forgot what I was supposed to have been doing at that time, tending to the potatoes!
The story came to a screeching halt when my nostrils were severely assaulted by a heavy cloud of smoke. Dropping the book, I ran to the stove and stared at the potatoes in horror.
They were completely burned. I felt like such a failure. I had no time to go back to the garden to pick up some more.
I was reprimanding myself for my lack of focus as I stood outside with the pan, upon which a cloud of smoke was still very active. I had to let the potatoes cool before I could throw them out, scared of setting fire accidentally.
That is how Mirth found me, sitting on the grass, pan with the burned potatoes by my side, upset and distressed. Feeling like Hopeless again.
I felt that I couldn’t even accomplish a rudimentary task, never mind something grand.
Mirth ran into the tent, placed the flowers into the vase, poured some water, and ran out of the tent in less than a minute.
“Hopeful, wait a minute. I will be back very soon. Let’s see if perhaps we still have time to recover from this mishap.”
She ran across the clearing to her grandmother’s tent.
About five minutes later she was back, standing in front of me, holding out a pan with something delicious. How did I know it was delicious? It just simply smelled divine. Nothing that smelled this good could be anything but delicious!
It looked like a pie, which was quickly confirmed by Mirth, that indeed it was a shepherd’s pie just made by Compassion, who was in the habit of making twice the food she needed. The extra food she would always give away to visitors that came to the village or the needy families that struggled with their planting plots.
I made a mental note to run over to her grandmother’s tent later to thank her. She truly felt like my salvation. I hoped that the Prophet would be pleased.
As soon as we put the pie on the table, the Prophet crossed the threshold of his abode, took off his cloak and stopped in his tracks.
“My, what a pleasant surprise!”
He sat in one of the chairs by the table and almost looked uncomfortable, as if he wasn’t used to the care and attention that he was experiencing at that moment. He always took care of others, but rarely did anyone take care of him.
I took one of the ceramic plates and proceeded to fill it with the salad and a piece of the fragrant pie. Handing him the plate was a moment of pride for me. Here I was, able to take care of someone who had already done so much for me. For a moment, he felt like a father to me. I began to feel very sentimental but managed to take hold of my emotions as I busied myself with finding the napkins.
I sat down across from him with my own plate. We ate in silence, occasionally looking at each other. Mirth would crack a joke or two and we would laugh politely. She was such a sweet child.
After the main course, I pushed the fruit bowl closer to the old man. As he was perusing the fruit, grabbing a pear and a few dates, I thought it would be the appropriate time to pour us some wine into the golden goblets that I found in the back of one of his shelves.
The Prophet’s eyes widened when he saw them and told me to remind him one day, not today, the story behind them.
Mirth got up, grabbed an apple, and said it was time for her to go home as her mom would be looking for her by now.
We drank the wine and ate the fruit. I entertained the old man with my potatoes story. He looked at me affectionately and thanked me for going to this trouble of preparing a meal for him. He said I should bring some of the fruit and vegetables to Compassion next time I would go to see her.
I asked him where he was all morning after he left.
“In my Secret Place,” he said, and I nodded. By that point, I understood well enough the need to go there.
“In the afternoon, we will go to the school yard to teach children. After that, we will discuss your training once again. As for now, we had a busy morning, let’s nap. We deserve a break.”
He got up and went to his bed. I got up and went to my corner made up of many textiles, blankets and pillows.
I quickly fell asleep.