3.16.2014

To Pauline and Her Dog, and Such Others

We are pioneers navigating in a quiet and beautiful land of Sweden.  The landscape is hard and thick with ancient rocks covered in moss and solitude, watching us strange creatures climb over this new place as we head out bundled every afternoon.  We spend a lot of time outside, Remy, Thea and I. Partly because I feel I have support from a seasoned and wise mother in nature when I don't know what else to do.  Carl had to lead a field trip in musky Scotland, and so we are here, literally the most alone I've maybe ever been in my whole life.  I've lived abroad before, and I've been on my own before, but I wasn't quite prepared to be this alone, or to see my kids feel this alone.  It is a short time, and so to lament and feel sorry isn't so productive, though I can't say I haven't indulged in some of both.  To gain a little insight and empathy seems to be my best bet and blessing, so I will say this:  please be broadly and unsuspectingly kind.  Be the guardian to those around you, however briefly they are yours.  I think you will find it more natural than you think.  Protect the people that come into your space, even when you don't know what they need protecting from.  

A few weeks ago I read a line from Matthew when Jesus is instructing the apostles and though I know initially what it means, I haven't been able to get it from my head for suspect that it means much, much more: 'freely ye have received, freely give.'  The part that initially struck me is how indeed 'freely I have received.' Often with eagerness and without a look back and then I was a little ashamed when I thought how often I am reluctant to 'freely give.' 

So to Pauline from Kenya with the black lab who invited us in and let Remy jump on your couch and dig for worms among your vegetables; and to the kind woman with the leather saddle shoes who translated the whole church meeting for me without my asking; and the man at the grocery store who asked first in swedish, then in english if I needed help out,  I have freely received, drank, gulped up your kindness.  How could you have known your words and gestures would be like a light house in the sometimes wavering and lonely light of motherhood?

For most, in fact, probably all of my life, I have received abundantly, staggeringly so, and I recognize it is not that way for everyone.  There is such a thing as the friendless and the helpless, and there are times when I am that one still.  I think we all are vulnerable to this feeling, even in the midst of a crowd. There isn't a  time exclusive to either side of the equation: receiving and giving.  Their time moves like cycling seasons: a harsh winter jumping into spring and a vibrant summer heading in a vapid, cold autumn in the course of a day and a week and even an hour. We are our worst and our best 100 times a day.

 Like the way Thea wakes at 3 a.m. and holds her arms up in the dark knowing I will reach down to her and slide my hands under her familiar and heavenly armpits and pull her close, look for those who need your love, and pull them quickly and close to you.  Let them know it will all be alright because you too have been told so by someone else at some sacred time, a thousand times over. 

6 comments:

Sofia Hoiland said...

Hello sister. I think of you every day and you are making quiet memories for you and your children. We all feel alone sometimes, but I know you are surrounded by people who care you just have to trust the quietness of it all. Can't wait to visit you!

Jess said...

Ah, there are so many times in my day that i wish to be alone, just for one quiet moment, but in reality when i do find myself alone i desperately reach for my phone. its as if the stillness of my mind terrifies me. there is a delicate balance between needing quiet and feeling somewhat inadequate with who and what and how i live. i will send all my positive vibes your way. try your hardest to relish the solitary mothering and teach those beautiful babes to enjoy the quiet stillness. All my love!

Becca said...

So beautifully said, as always. I love your words. I'm glad that there are small moments of kindness to bring you out of your solitude, and I hope that you make some beautiful friends soon.

Make sure that on midsommer you find some gorgeously quaint town to celebrate with. We traveled through Scandinavia in June of 2002 and happened through a teeny village during midsommer. It was like a fairy tale. Little girls in blue and yellow, dancing around a maypole, quaint villagers joyfully celebrating summer's crazy long days. It is absolutely one of my favorite memories.

Sharla said...

Thank you so much for this post. It touched my heart deeply when I read it earlier today. You are so gifted my friend. Hang in there. You're incredible!

Krisanne said...

Beautiful, beautiful. I love this. Your words and your mind are so wonderfully aligned with what's most important and poetic.

Rachel Hunt said...

Your words are the balmiest balm to my soul.

Kindness has always been important to me, so I was surprised by how I needed it so much more after becoming a mother. I need it for Cora and I need it for myself. And I have received, from people who don't need to be as nice to me as they are, but who are anyway.