Late March

It is snowing outside again today - big flakes backed by a grey sky and freezing temperatures. Even though we have lived in Northern Alberta for eleven years now, winter still feels long, each and every year. I grew up in Southern Alberta where there were always tulips in early April and we never wore snowsuits (or even coats) for Halloween. Probably only four to six weeks less of winter a year, but enough of a difference to make me feel trapped after the five and a half or so months we get here. I'm dreaming of bare feet on grass. I quit facebook, probably not forever, but for well over a week now. My mind needed some extra space, and I don't have the self-discipline to stop checking on my own, so quitting it was. I'm craving a lot of quiet which is ironic for a woman who homeschools her three children, has a nine week old puppy and is living out the last few weeks of full on winter. I'm trying all my get through this season tricks that are available to me.

Running usually helps me get through this period of the year and I'm missing the mental clarity it brings to me. I've been thinking much about running because yes, I'm missing how it makes me feel but also because I feel like I have just run a race. A race I didn't sign up for and I didn't know how long it was going to be.

This is true of any tragedy, of any trauma, of any hardship that comes and surprises us I think. For anything you have to do that you really would rather not have to handle. Any race you would rather not have to run.

The actual running of the race is the really hard and scary part. You have to push yourself, you use all your positive thinking mind tricks, you tell yourself you aren't tired and that heck yes, you can go a lot further. You tell yourself you are strong, you are brave, you are not a victim. Because you are, but also because if you didn't think you were before, you have to be now.

You have to surrender yourself to the process, to God, to faith and hope. You give yourself over to the belief that good will come from this. Because the alternative just doesn't jive with your soul.

Of course there are times where you break down, where you think you can't do this anymore. Times when you depend on the medics and the volunteers who pass out water and your family and friends who helped you train and are cheering you on, even if they don't really understand running at all.

After you are patched up, cheered on, taken care of, you keep going because you aren't ready to give up. Mostly you do pretty well and don't break down too often,  and you think I'm okay, I'm fine, I'm not tired. I can keep doing this shit like I was born to handle it. This goes on for varying lengths of time and involves random changes in the course.

You keep going because you are strong, you are brave yes, but also because you are tenderhearted. Because you have the will to live and grow and heal. You learn all kinds of things about God and your self you weren't sure you ever wanted to learn. You make it through things that are taking every ounce of will you have.

Then one day the race is over, at least for now.

And whatever your race is that you didn't choose and didn't know how long it would be, when it is over you are tired. Maybe it was only a half marathon instead of a full or maybe you had to do the whole freaking iron man. Anyone who has trained for these types of runs knows, you lie to yourself to get yourself through. No I'm not tired. I can keep going. This hill is no big deal. But when you let yourself stop, when the race is done, it comes flooding in. Tired muscles, tired lungs, tired self.

So here I am in late March. Tired. Feeling acceptance about this messy middle, the place where I can't feel all the gratitude I know I will feel when I've sat here long enough to catch my breath, when I've stopped racing long enough to have recovered a bit more.

It's my nature to rush this, just like the last few weeks of winter, to wish it away, instead of learning from where I am at. So for now I tell myself, spring is coming, everything just needs a bit more rest.



We have been camping

We have been camping on the west coast of Canada these past days. I grew up camping and for me still there is nothing quite like it. Having nothing else to do but just be and marvel at the masterpiece of creation. Eating simple food and taking naps. Lingering and making eye contact. Surrounded with the ones I love the most. Being still. IMG_3574

I read my oldest two the last few chapters of The House at Pooh Corner on the beach at bedtime. I cry at the end and struggle to get the words out. Liam asks me why I’m crying and I say ‘because Christopher Robin has to grow up but he doesn’t really want to, not quite yet.’ Even though he just turned eight he nods and says ‘Oh I see’ and I think he really does.

And we take a hike to a mountain lake and I carry my three year old on my back, hard uphill the whole way. Then we hit a flatter spot and she meanders all by herself, full of determination. There are tons of irritating little black flies in everyone’s eyes and ears and nose that threaten to suck the joy from it. But instead I know I will remember swimming in the cold lake at the top so clean and clear that the trees are perfectly reflected with my baby hanging onto my neck and the rest of my loves splashing around.


Towards the end I sit with Aaron at the picnic table overlooking the ocean eating the last of our supper. The kids have all finished and ran off to play with the other kids on the beach. (There is an epic pirate adventure being lived out with sticks and rocks and sunshine and time.) So we toast to our pizza grilled cheese and laugh about our fancy date. I tell you that you are looking healthy and you are, a tan on your face and the sparkle back in those blue eyes the colour of the ocean I fell in love with.

We watch the most beautiful sunset I think I have ever seen. I think about glory spilling over that the heavens cannot hold, onto earth. A broken belief in me is changed to one of abundance and something is healed.