We are spending our Spring Break in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and since this blog is leading up to Lent, I thought I would share a timely Tennessee law, just in case this affects your upcoming plans: “No Christian parent may require their children to pick up trash from the highway on Easter day.” I didn’t drive on the almost 9-hour ride down here because it is also “illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians.” Although that’s only in Memphis, we didn’t want to take any chances given my recent car-related run-ins with the law. And though I’m fairly sure I saw evidence of this law being broken, it is a laudable one nonetheless: “You may not have more than five inoperable vehicles on a piece of property.” Finally, while we ourselves certainly did provide evidence of the following Tennessean legal assertion at various points during the drive: “the definition of ‘dumb animal’ includes every living creature,” I can assure you that we were not alone.
Category Archives: family life
My 12-year old son does sports at school, and that means that his parents “do” sports as well, meaning that we drive places, and then drive back from places, and “volunteer” to help out at sporting events. Right now, it’s basketball season, and this week I was “volunteered” to work the concession stand at one of the games. I love to watch my son move; I love to see him run when he’s doing cross-country, sprint when he’s doing track, pass and shoot when he’s playing basketball. What I do not love is wearing plastic food-service gloves and selling dried out pizza to snotty 13-year old girls, who, with their masses of barrettes and braces, travel in packs and never say “please.”
In the dark early hours of the morning, I saw a shadowy figure in my bedroom, and my first thought was that it was Jesus. I’d been reading some Anne Lamott the night before—the part of Travelling Mercies where she describes what she later came to believe was Jesus’ presence in her bedroom as she was struggling alone, drunk, strung out, through the aftermath of an abortion. Anne writes that she could feel the presence so strongly that she got up and turned on the light to see if someone was there.
One of the chapters of Anne Lamott’s Travelling Mercies is an account of a health scare she had with her son Sam. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective (and mental health), we had a similar experience this week with Gabe. But before I tell you about that, I want to show you this picture by Toni Frissell, a female photographer in the 1940’s and 50’s.
It’s from an underwater shoot of models all wearing white, fluidy gowns. To me, it evokes many things: surrender, descent, freedom, and something of the seductive power of depression. It also reminds me of the scene in “The Piano” where Holly Hunter almost drowns because she lets her leg get tangled up with her piano when it falls overboard. (Hunter plays a mute woman in the 1850’s who is sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage. Her piano is, quite literally, her voice). She is very calm at first, quietly observing the water around her, gracefully allowing herself to be pulled down, down, down. Then suddenly it’s like she wakes up and realizes what is happening, and she struggles to free herself and swim to the surface. The camera shows her discarded boot sinking slowly deeper, while she swims up, towards a life that she is not sure she wants, certainly one she knows nothing about, but one she is not ready to give up.
Happy September, my friends! Today I have some good news and some good news. Which would you like to hear first? Okay, I’ll start with the good news. My freshman-in-high-school son has now made it through two full weeks and so far has: figured out how to take the bus there and back (mostly), learned how to open and close his locker (sort of), found people to sit with at lunch (the hardest thing about high school, in my opinion), met a girl who has drawn his name on her notebooks and binders (of which I hope she has more because it seems a bit early in the game to make that kind of commitment), not gotten anyone pregnant, not contracted an STD, and has actually spoken enthusiastically about a few of his classes. Thank ya, Jesus!
I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled slog through the 43 Eternal Truths to bring you this update on our family’s summer, which started when the boys got out of school back in May, i.e. about 700 years ago, and to announce the invention of a family summer plan which may or may not get all of us through to September alive and sane.
Well, I’m getting June’s Heart of the Month in just under the wire, but I have a good reason: today my mother, MaryAnne Crowley, officially completed 34 years and nine months of a truly inspiring teaching career. She did a few other things in the meantime, such as gave birth to and stayed home with three children, moved house 5 times, supported my dad as he went to law school at night to pursue his own professional dream of becoming a lawyer, got a Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist, learned to play golf, travelled to more countries than I can think of, and compiled a truly spectacular shoe collection, especially for someone with size 5 feet. The best line at her retirement party was spoken by one of the younger teachers my mother has mentored: “You may have tiny feet, but you have very big shoes to fill.”