27 October 2009

A parting gift.

At our old house, there was a Japanese Maple which draped over our front entry. I had a love-hate relationship with that tree. Mainly love, but just a little hate every October.

After it's final blaze of autumnal glory, it would drop its leaves on the front walk, and they would be tracked in by kids and dogs at a rate which outpaced the ability of any broom or rake to keep in check. Leaves in the front hall, leaves on the stairs, leaves working their way into the kitchen. It was mostly worth the annoyance though. It was a beautiful tree, arching perfectly over the front walk, right at the edge of the front porch. It shaded the west facing front door in summer, it provided glorious color in the fall, a perfect arc for hanging lights at Christmas, a frame for photos of little ones getting ready to trick or treat, or high school graduates in their new suits, a place where oldest and youngest sons would stretch out on their backs and look up at the leaves together.

And it was a perfect access point to the garage roof for #2 son's climbing exploits. Sometimes for virtuous errands, like voluntary trips up to clean the gutters or to rescue a frisbee. Sometimes more questionable ones, like the day he climbed up there during a snow/ice storm (for a better vantage point in a snowball fight), then, at his older brother's prompting slid down from the peak of the roof. And spent the next couple of weeks on crutches.* There was a horizontal branch with the perfect balance of stiffness and spring that even I could not resist swinging on it occasionally.

A lot of life happened on and around that tree.

When we were unpacking, I was moving the beautiful oak cradle my dad had made for us prior
to the birth of our oldest. resting in the cradle was a small cluster of leaves from that tree. Still green - they had dropped a bit early, as the movers hauled the cradle out. Perhaps a parting gift from the tree, since the kids couldn't track it's leaves into the new house, it sent a few along to say "goodbye" once more.

*proper sized crutches were luckily available because older brother had needed them a year or so earlier after the vine he was swinging on broke. But that's another story.

So much "stuff", so little time.

I really love the Franciscan saints: Francis, Clare and Anthony... And after this week I'm starting to see that they had a point with their total lack of posessions. Moving to a new house has forced me to come face to face with my pack-rat tendencies, and there was definitely a point this week when I was ready to ditch all my worldly goods, put on my brown habit, and not have to squander another precious moment of life trying to figure out where to put things.

But now that things are mostly in place, I'm feeling a bit better. That being said, I'm feeling highly motivated to simplify things and figure a few more visits to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul will be added to the ones already made. How did we accumulate so much "stuff"? Yes, some of it comes with the territory of having a big family, but still, I can only blame that reality up to a point. Well, that and Amazon (my main temptation for book gluttony).
Even now, with the boxes all out of the house (well, all but two of them) I can still almost see how St Anthony could walk away from his Abbey and all the books there. Almost, but not quite. Surrounded by books, and kids and mild clutter, I realize that total simplicity is not in my grasp - but it's been a good week to step back and realize how quickly "things" can overtake the precious hours and days. Hmm, maybe St Bonaventure (a Franciscan and a scholar) might have some insight on finding balance. Maybe I should get some of his books. Or, maybe not.

12 October 2009

Said goodbye to a dear friend...

Pixie will be sadly missed. Some curmudgeonly theologians say dogs don't go to Heaven, but I beg to differ with that opinion. I figure Pixie is even now acting as God's guard dog; and with her on duty, St. Michael can probably occasionally take an afternoon off. Nothing will get past her unnoticed.

04 October 2009

My ears are still ringing...

... But it was worth it!

Saturday night, we piled in the car and headed to the Centre (the theatre/convention center downtown) to catch a concert.

The evening started with a great accoustic set by Bebo Norman. He had another really talented musician (Gabe Scott, I think) with him, who was amazing on the hammer dulcimer. It would have been worth the price of admission for that set alone.

Then the pace (and the volume!) picked up a bit with Natalie Grant. The girls loved her music and the stories she told. Very dynamic and very passionate about her faith.

The last set really ramped up the energy, the sound level, and the lights. Jeremy Camp was fantastic. How Sean managed to fall asleep for the last 20 minutes is beyond me - it was quite a show (and lived up to the Tour's title: "Louder Than Before"), but if you're a tired little boy, apparently sleep can triumph over anything.

Great music, and a lot of inspiration - wish we could go again.


Afterwards we headed home to enjoy yue bing (Moon Cakes - no, not related in any way to Moon Pies!) because it was Moon Festival in China.