Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bombardier Tales, Volume I

I’m waiting for siblings to dress in overalls, boots, and scarves so we can hit the fields with bombardier and toboggan. But he’s waiting for me. I step out, fill the interim with some movement, and he greets me, “What took you so long?” He’s been waiting a while. And I thought he was taking those short spins just for his own pleasure, but really, he was waiting for me.

“I don’t want to drive,” I say as I approach. He’s perched on the back. What girl wants to drive when there is a man with you? So he takes the driver’s seat. I grab the strap with one hand and his waist with the other.

We go: him, the retired Mountie, a man grappling with aging, a man so alive, with ever-increasing constraints and limitations on his life. And me, the girl-woman, coming home for Christmas to a place crammed with memory. Each activity thrusts another ream of “remember when” across my mind’s eye. Old pains, joys, fears, and hopes surface in the simple pleasures of a Christ-tide holiday.

So we travel on, south. The open fields crusted by Chinook winds, the stubble-preserved snow, the mild calm before the storm. “Should we go all the way to those mountains?” he asks, the revving motor matching his rising excitement. No matter that the Sweetgrass Hills are in Montana: soul and mind have space, and can dream fabulous, hilarious ventures.

We swerve and turn and drive over the wind-carved jumps, laughing and whooping our way through the fields. Back into the yard, he asks, “Enough?” and I answer, “Sure.” But he’s not ready to quit. He needs to taste it again, that freedom of wind in your face, cold air freezing your skin, thumb vibrating with throttle’s heartbeat. “How ‘bout over that way?” So we head West, pinking sky ahead.

We swerve and meander to the standing rock, our own “Ebenezer,” where we stop to look. “I’ve never been out to this rock,” he says, and we’ve had it standing more than seven years. So I show him the cultivator indentations on the upper face, where shovels bounced and scraped and jabbed year after year. Flying geese, a flock of jagged “Vs,” travel across Ebenezer’s face, weathering it with their rusty wrinkles. But he stands unashamed, unmoved. The rock towers over our heads, though we can reach the top and brush off the hawk and osprey lime left on his crown. We talk about how Dad drug Ebenezer to this high spot in the field, pulling him with borrowed cable and our strongest tractor, from down in the dip to up on this ridge. People we’ve never met drive by and can see the rock, and we, sitting round our kitchen table, can see it through French door, beyond barn and shed and granaries, there at the swell in the field.

I restart the machine, and we head back, exploring, cheering, laughing, riding the bumpy ridge in the shelterbelt.

We come into the yard the front way, and siblings pour out of the house, ready for their own adventure. He isn’t ready to stop, to concede, to quit. I tell him to go, so he straddles long limb behind the younger man, and they take off, pulling a toboggan of fun-loving adventurers.

We remember, and live truly. We recall the past, and thrive instead of exist in the present. We re-visit, and explore history for the first time, and come away ready to live. Looking back, we see glimpses and glimmers of what makes us fully alive. And our hearts yearn with happy sorrow to be more than we have been, do more than we have done, love better what we have cherished little, and aspire for our true destiny.

He returns a hero, laughing and triumphant. And that’s just how he should come home.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Elusive Treasure

Elusive Treasure 13 July 2010

Space, time to enjoy, this notion of savouring life, haunts and taunts the mind; its mysterious nature bids us subside our activity, while it simultaneously whisks the prize out of our reach, making us rouse and chase it once again.

Flitting, floating, darting in graceful swoops, it flutters in and out of our periphery. Pursuing, calculating, manoeuvring, we try to outwit, anticipate, and capture the treasure. Gasping and desperate, we tumble headlong, tripping over our weary feet. Sprawled and pretzled, our winded gaze skyward, the refocusing eye catches glimpses of moving colour. The quested object lands on our nose, smiling down at us.

Or perhaps we do not stumble. Perhaps precision and endurance gain us advantage, and we capture the fluttering trophy. But what do we do now? It tickles our clasped palms, then stops moving. Have we suffocated it? Cracking cupped hands open, light rays reveal the reward, placid and peaceful. No signs of exerted breathing, no damage incurred from the chase. Palms unlocked, sun shining, the world stops for a moment, and we try to understand what we have attained. Then the prize walks decidedly to the end of a finger, and flies comfortably away. And we are none the wiser.

The elusive dream delights and crushes. In all the activity and projects and deadlines and needs, my heart is haunted with the prize. I suppose it’s like someone running a race, who can’t just stop once they cross the finish line. They must stagger and sway and lose rhythm and flay arms while the heart slows and adrenaline tapers. Desires actually accomplished leave me feeling, what next, what now?

And in the silence of the moment, the horrible indeterminate pause where we inhale, exhale, and wait, the prize comes, but in a form we never expected.

And so it was today. I lit candles, I dabbled on the piano. I ran errands. I did research. I boggled my mind and overwhelmed my heart with all the new to-do lists and all the possibilities of an unborn tomorrow. I tried to calm, tried to trust, tried to preach truth to myself. I tried not to do what I can’t help myself from doing: worry. Circumstances seem too simple to warrant worry, but too unknown to navigate without it. I want to be busier, but yet, can’t find the time for the things I really might like to do.

And in the music, and the moment, it comes. It washes over me, engulfing me in a moment. Rest.

“And He said to them, ’Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’“ Mark 6:31

The place is deserted and quiet. I have been brought aside. My heart must now come aside. I cannot come, or rest, or stay a while; I can do nothing without Him.

And maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the treasure after all. Maybe it’s not even in holding the prize of rest. Maybe it’s knowing that He is holding me.
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