As usual, my daughter is running from one thing to another today: teaching, coaching soccer after school, grading papers in between the acts and then teaching again. Every day, she juggles a work schedule on a par with that of Oprah Winfrey or Martha Stewart, but without the support staff.
Today is her birthday. When she was small, her birthday parties always included raking the fallen leaves into piles and then letting the little guests take a running leap and jump in them, over and over again. Now, the crushing workload she carries doesn't allow for much in the way of celebration; that will have to wait. I call her cell phone and leave a happy birthday message on her voicemail, in which I suggest fifteen minutes with her feet up.
I want her to slow down. I worry about her stressful life. I am aware that I have never modeled slowing down very well, even now, when my life is so much quieter than it was when I was her age. I am also aware that she has little choice about these things; she has a family to support, and teachers don't make tons of money. I remember that pressure very well, too; you can't afford to turn down anything that might bring in a dollar or two.
I awoke thinking of the day she was born. How I noticed a little discomfort while folding clothes at the laundromat, how I finished folding, carried them home and then went to the hospital. Got there at one in the afternoon and she arrived at four. I guess we're both fast.
Later than evening, she lay sleeping in her bassinet while I gazed at her, memorizing her face, her curly hair, her eyelashes, her petal skin. Suddenly she opened her mouth and yawned -- a big yawn for such a little girl. I was absurdly proud: my baby could yawn! Just like a person! She had worked hard. Being born was work enough for one short day. There would be tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.
We are never finished, not until it is time for us to leave. What peace we gain in life usually does not come from completion. It is not earned; it is a gift. Today I pray a birthday prayer: peace and refreshing rest for my lovely little girl, now a lovely grown woman. None of us can labor it into being. It comes as gift. Let it come.
Tomorrow, Thursday, at St. Peter's, Bayshore, LI: The Geranium Journey with Barbara Crafton. Deacon Joanna Depue will be there as well. Bring a brown bag lunch and join a group of interesting people for an hour of lively conversation with Barbara about things that matter. An easy train ride from NYC Penn Station; for driving directions, visit http://www.stpetersbayshore.org/dayshool.html or telephone 631-665-0051
Saturday, November 3, 9-4 "Too Busy to Pray" A quiet day at St. Luke's, Metuchen NJ with Barbara Crafton, especially for the over-scheduled, timed for right before the holiday season, when things really get crazy. Call St. Luke's at 732-548-4308, ext 10.
"Sabbath for Sabbath Workers" A retreat at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY. Do you work on Sundays? Are you so busy making everyone else has a Sabbath that you don't get one? Get away from it at a retreat with Barbara Crafton, especially for those of us in the church biz. November 27-29. http://www.holycrossmonastery.com/GuestHouse/SchedRetreats.htm