Don’t Shop at the Safeway!

“Don’t shop at the Safeway!”

This is what my husband and I heard time and again when we told people where we had purchased our new home.

We heard this from bankers, realtors, doctors, nice people, smart people, goofy people and everyone-in-between people.

Why, we wondered, did everyone keep telling us this?

Our neighborhood and the immediately surrounding neighborhoods are very nice. Exceptionally nice, I might even dare to say. Children ride their bikes on the streets and freely knock on neighbors’ doors in search of playdates. Adults host block parties and on Halloween they put fire pits in their driveways for hand-warming, marshmallow roasting, and so Aaron has something to attempt jumping into.

It is also true that the only way to get to our neighborhood—which is located a little off the beaten path—is through a poor neighborhood. It is, as one person euphemistically put it, a dark neighborhood.

“Ohhhh. Is there a bad drug problem there? Like meth houses and such?”

“Er, no.”

“High crime rate?”

“Not exactly.”

“Well… it doesn’t sound bad to me. As long as it’s safe, we’re fine with it. We really love that house!”

“Yes, but it’s… dark. Oh, and you wouldn’t want to shop at the Safeway.”

“Bad produce?”

“I wouldn’t really know. I don’t go there.”

Upon first meeting my primary care doctor and giving her our address she immediately said, “Don’t shop at the Safeway!”

When signing the closing papers on our house, the facilitating broker said, “Well, you’ll just have to drive down to the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. You sure won’t be shopping at that Safeway!”

Well, let me tell you a secret: we shop at the Safeway.

There are armed guards, locks on the bathrooms, and only one point of entry/exit (easier to monitor). To enter the store I often walk through a plume of cigarette smoke and conversations that I, prudishly, might call inappropriate.

But I go there anyway. And I’ve never, ever, not even once, felt scared, threatened, under attack, or uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form (unless you count the fact that its Starbucks doesn’t heat its chocolate croissants before serving them. That is just not okay).

Today, though, I went to Whole Foods.

I don’t often go to Whole Foods. In fact, I haven’t been there in about a decade. Why would I buy overpriced organic health food at Whole Foods when I can get the same food at a better cost at almost every other store in the fantabulous-to-shop-for-food-in Berkeley?

But alas, those days are gone, and we are the furthest of far from the land of farmers’ markets and Alice Waters.

Because my husband and I want to eat healthy, organic, grass fed, and hormone-free food when possible (though let’s face it: most nights we just have Annie’s Mac-n-Cheese), we’ve decided to supplement our Trader Joe’s and Safeway excursions with trips to Whole Foods. Today was one such day.

No cigarette smoke greeted me as I walked through the door. Instead, I entered through a well-lit foyer with handsome displays of nice looking things that made me want to buy them.

It was overwhelming.

It was like Ikea, but without the free meatballs.

It was also a bit like a fair-trade, living wage Walmart: I couldn’t decide whether to buy coffee from the coffee bar, soup from the soup bar, bulk grains from the bulk grain bar (conveniently located by the salsa bar!), or get a facial.

The cashier had so little sense of humor I had to explain that one of my many jokes was a joke. To this she replied, in a tone slightly too defensive to call deadpan, “I was just teasing back.”

The woman behind me in line was clearly the blue-ribbon holder of the local stroller wars.

And the super-toned, Luluemon-wearing, iPhone-talking woman in the produce aisle clearly, CLEARLY, had gone shopping that day only to make me feel gross and lazy.

And that’s fine. All of this is fine. The cashier is probably overworked and tired, and I bet I’d be friends with the woman behind me in line (in fact, I bet I’d even be friends with the guilt-inducing super-fit mom from the produce aisle).

I shelled out the big bucks for my few items then headed to Safeway to get the rest.

And there they were: smokers smoking, talkers talking, and yes, even deadpan cashiers.

And you know what? I felt equally safe in the aisles of Safeway as I had in the maze of Whole Foods.

Self-segregation is self-perpetuating.

As innocent as it may seem, advising folks new to the area not to shop at the local Safeway—at the very least not at night, as some said—builds up the litany of beliefs we like to call “being safe,” rather than “being racist.”

Some of those who gave us their sage shopping advice were strangers to me. Some were people I know, and I know them to be quite nice and educated and all that good stuff. And yet… they felt inclined to warn us. To repeat what they’ve been told.

And isn’t that how it goes? Don’t shop there, it isn’t safe. And suddenly, I think shouldn’t go there, should warn others as well.

Don’t buy a home there; the neighbors a few blocks a way may not be right for you. Confused by this ambivalence, I worry about crime and safety and look elsewhere for my home. Property values begin to fall.

I have, unwittingly, become part of the cycle.

But I won’t.

I’m not saying that I’m saving the day, building up an economy, or blessing a particular store with my privileged-status self in hopes that it will become the seller of high-end organic goods and that all the doorway smokers will realize the error of their carcinogenic ways. That would be a bunch of malarky. What I am saying is that small acts of resistance are sometimes all that we can muster. I know that’s true for me right now, in these tired middle years. It’s certainly easy enough for me to say, “Hey! Look at me! I shop here and, believe it or not, you can too.”

Truth be told, I’m not even a huge fan of Safeway. I don’t feel a strong desire to put it ahead of other stores, and I won’t. I’ll go where I can get what I need when I need it. But each time I choose the Safeway by my house, I’ll give a little fist pump and nod to this, my (infinitesimally) small act of resistance. Silly, isn’t it?

Sometimes Love Looks Like a Poop-Filled Bag and Half-Eaten Burger

Marriage necessitates so much giving up of one’s self. I’m not very comfortable with that because I kind of like all my parts and want to keep them. I like the part of me that often wants to  be alone. I like the part of me that wants calm, cleanliness, and order at all costs. I like the part of me that wants to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it.

But I’m finding that these parts don’t fit too well in the machine of marriage.

Instead I have to think about him and his needs, which, unfortunately, don’t always match up with mine. It’s easier to think about the kids’ needs; I’ve been putting kids first since I was fifteen. (Fifteen I tell you! Can you even imagine?) I can also do this for people to whom I am not related or married. But putting the needs of my spouse first? That is where I draw the line.

I promise you, and him, and our offspring, that I am indeed trying. I don’t take this marriage thing lightly. I mean, if I’m going to give up that expensive law degree and my girlish figure and all my wonderful, fantastic, perfect alone time with cocoa and a book, this marriage thing better work out. Because I’ll be damned if after all this sacrifice I end up changing my own diapers some day.

Today I even offered to split my bacon cheeseburger and fries right down the middle with my husband, and I hate sharing food. This bit of selfless giving on my part came about because I thought my husband didn’t want fast food, but that was only because I only gave him about six seconds to respond to my text asking if he wanted fast food, and by the time second seven came around I’d already ordered and gotten my burger from under the heat lamp.

I felt bad.

I kind of also felt unhealthy and fat even though I’m trying to gain weight right now. So I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. My husband, home sick watching The Hobbit at top volume while I worked my fingers to the bone and he pretended not to notice, declined my offer.

No matter. Now I had a point to put up on the little chalkboard in my mind. Jamie 1, Andy 827. He’d better watch out—I’m on his heels! Somewhere after my kindly act and his utter disregard, I got really snappy. I think it’s because he wanted to borrow my computer, but he has his own darn computer. He’s been saying for months now he’s going to ask his boss about getting a new one, but has he done it? Nooooo. (Note that this brings Andy down to a lowly 826 points) So this means he has to borrow my computer. The one he gave me as a gift and cost about as much as a used car. The one I pour my heart and soul into and leave my email up on, and have goofy Facebook talks with my bloggy friends on. Reminds me of my dad going through my poetry and cassette tapes, asking just what exactly it means, this album called Songs of Faith and Devotion? Faith in what? Devotion to whom? And why is that song by the Violent somethingorothers entitled Gone Daddy Gone? What does this mean, Jamie?

Bless him and his helping heart.

So anyway, Andy used it, and I gave myself half a point since I did, after all, loan it to him. I did angry, slammy things the whole time he used it maybe, or maybe I picked up poop in the backyard since it’s going to snow tomorrow and who wants to pick up half frozen/half smushy poop? And I think I seethed the whole time about how poop pick up is his job, not mine. A battle raged within me:

Yes, but he has a cold, Jamie.”

“He’s had that cold for two weeks now. One should not malinger! I gave birth with a cold! I bleach the bathtub and pre-treat whites with a cold!” And the clincher: “I cleaned the baby’s vomit as I was vomiting.” Boo yah!

But then:

You just lost a client; you have plenty of time on your hands to pick up poop.”

“You wanna’ ask me why I lost a client? Because I have to cram 26 hours of work into two-hour naps! Andy’s side of the bed is messier than mine and takes ten seconds longer to make! I do everything around here!”

Only one poop pile left now, Jamie, so you’re going to have to get over it.”

Eventually I lost to myself, and gave myself another half point, which brought the score up to a strong 826 to 2, I think.

It’s a bit after 5pm now and my tea’s gone cold. I know that Andy and the kids are almost home—picking the kids up from preschool scores Andy a whopping 200 points per child—and I’m thinking of dinner, and backpacks, and lunch box cleaning, and papers, so many papers, scattered all over my just-cleaned kitchen. And then the dishes and counters and trash, maybe the floors if I’m feeling domestic, and then the scramble to get the kiddos to bed before our backs give out.

And I’m thinking that I’m thankful, oh so thankful, that I don’t have to do all of that alone.

Nothing but Love in God’s Water

We began today much like I imagine many other touchy-feeling, social justice-y, liberal do-gooder families did: by reading about Martin Luther King, Jr. The littles and I gathered ‘round and read from the book of Common Prayer, but in an act of civil disobedience we read from January 15th instead of today. The 15th is MLK’s birthday, and it’s where the good stuff is. Our sweet educational moment went something like this:

Me, reading: “In 1983, celebrating his contribution to the civil rights—”

“Mama, hold on. Stuffy’s not supposed to be over there. I need to get Stuffy.”

“Two seconds, Rachel. You’ve got two seconds.”

Rachel grabs Stuffy then returns, satisfied. She and Stuffy settle in and I began again: “…. We also remember his insistence that the church exist as the “conscience of the state—”

“Mama? Can I have two more seconds? Stuffy needs a baby wipe.”

“No, Rachel, you may not have two seconds! We’re trying to have a learning moment here, darn it.”

Eventually we made it to the end, Aaron attempting the never before seen feat of climbing into my left nostril while Rachel alternated between caressing Stuffy with great love and swinging her around like a cowboy lasso gone wild.

What went a bit better than this sad (but worthwhile!) effort was the impromptu moment we had in the kitchen this morning when Rachel and I talked about dark skin and white skin and the miracle of love. Aaron, wearing his diaper around his ankles and in hysterics over the shuffling this caused, didn’t stop throwing all the low items off the pantry shelves, but Rachel seemed to be listening and, importantly, absorbing. And really, that’s all we daisy-picking parents can ask: that a little bit of our pacifistic hot-burning ball of ginormous love be passed down to those entrusted to our care.

We’re working on it.

Later, driving our dog Winston to the groomers where he would magically become slightly less stinky, I saw a great big sign that read, “Hatred has no cure.”

Hmmmm.

I almost wrecked, this bit of wisdom caused me to think so long and so hard.

I know a local church put this sign up. How do I know this? Because they put a similar looking sign up right by their giant cross display, which somebody has surrounded by symbols of other religions. (I think this is awesome: Put it all out there people. All of it). Anyway, I’m betting that these church folks had good intentions with this message. I bet they were saying hate is bad and love is good. But they sorely missed the mark.

I’ve hated. I’ve hated and loathed and cursed and even broke someone’s nose once. I’ve wished death upon my enemies, preferably of the slow and painful variety. I’ve acted on this hate in hateful ways, and felt it eat away at my soul. And still I’ve hated. Rolled in the crap-filled pigsty of self-righteous anger, ate at the trough of soul-killing slop. It’s addictive.

This isn’t the kind of hate that aims itself toward a person simply because of their skin color or religion. No, this is the kind of hate born of having something done that I took offense to. But no matter—hate is hate is hate.

And, dear church people with the cross on the hill, it has a cure.

I know this because I myself have been cured. I’ve forgiven the very worst of the worst, and I promise you that the worst really was quite bad. I don’t hesitate to say we all know what the cure is, so there’s no need pretending that we don’t, however cliche it is.

It’s love.

(can I throw a “duh” in there somewhere?)

Elie Wiesel said the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. C.S. Lewis said love’s opposite is power. Okay, sure. That’s some deep stuff, and I’m not saying it’s wrong, but we’re talking about the cure for hate, not it’s opposite.

Self-education helps too, as does removing one’s self from hateful groups of people, among other things. But those steps can’t be taken without the first desire, that first hot spark of love, to do and be something better. To begin your journey down the path of namby-pamby daisy-picking love.

But really it isn’t so namby-pamby after all.

It actually takes quite a bit of strength to stop saying, “But I’m RIGHT, dadgumit,” (okay, maybe only I say that), and start saying, “maybe I ought to reconsider…” And then do just that. You and I both know this from experience.

Frankly, I feel rather like an idiot writing about love. Like I’m jumping on a love bandwagon, because oh dear God, folks have been writing and writing on this forever at this point, banging their heads against a seemingly-unmoving wall. But I saw that sign sticking out there on a busy road for impressionable early readers to see, and it struck me as so odd a message, so wrong, that I just couldn’t help myself.

On the way to pick up Winston from his doggie spa appointment, I listened to a radio program featuring the author of a book, “Nothing but Love in God’s Water.” Before becoming the title of his book, this cool little assertion was (and still is) the name of an old African American spiritual. I agree with its point and think it’s kind of lovely, so I stole it to use here. This title got me thinking in a sort of shallow, bad analogy kind of way that when a group of folks turn up pregnant at once, or crabby, or whatever, some like to joke that “there must be something in the water.”

And to this I say: There sure is, and there’s no drought in sight. So drink it up. There’s no reason not too, other than the fact that for some strange reason it’s absurdly hard to give up poking a voodoo doll of yourself by claiming the glory of self-righteousness.

It’s been quite a while since I vandalized anything. Almost two decades by my math. But I’m thinking of taking up revisiting my teenaged years in an act of civil disobedience in honor of this day. If you Annapolitans drive down Forest and happen to see a big red X through the sign proclaiming there’s no cure for hate (followed by a link to my blog) I swear I didn’t do it.

Woman of Ink, Woman of the Cloth

Social justice Christian? Right wing fanatic? Death penalty proponent, or death penalty protestor? The media doesn’t always show it (okay, it NEVER shows it), but there’s actually a wide array—huge!—of Christian thought out there. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a good example of that. Some folks call her the devil, while others think her work with misfits of all stripes is a God send. I got to talk with Nadia on the phone the other day, and would love to share some of that conversation here.

In a dichotomous church world of traditional/conservative, weird/liberal, how do those in the latter camp resist the urge of a sort of reverse snobbery?

I don’t know that I’ve ever really resisted it. It’s still there, but it’s in bad from to assume I’m right about it. I feel it and think it, and I’d be lying to say I didn’t. The problem comes when I think God agrees with me or is co-signing on it, or it’s somehow the prophetic thing to assert that my snotty opinions are God’s truths. What is lacking on both sides of the equation—fundamentalism of the left or fundamentalism of the right—are two things that I won’t do without in my life anymore since I was raised in a fundamentalist setting, and those two things are joy and humility. I don’t see a lot of joy and humility being allowed when your main thing is holding some sort of line. I saw an advance screening of the Selma movie and it was incredible. I put up on Twitter the next day that I couldn’t wait for the rabid liberals to tell me why me thinking the Selma movie is amazing actually makes me a horrible racist. There is incredible pridefulness in social media. You aren’t really allowed to say if you like anything, because immediately someone will have some article about “What Selma got wrong.” It’s unbelievably prideful. You know, I enjoyed the movie and thought it had a lot to recommend it. But there is a lot of joy stealing out there in terms of no one being allowed to say they think anything is good, because someone will immediately come place themselves above you, saying “here’s why you got that wrong.” It’s not helping anyone. With Charlie Hebdo we’re talking about freedom of expression, but how much is that limited at this point because you’re afraid you might use the wrong word or say the wrong thing? It’s crippling.

You can read the rest of my interview with the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber here.

There’s Sick, and then there’s Homesick

When I was somewhere around 19 years old, I was the assistant manager of a wallpaper store. Wallpaper 4 Less, it was called, and I was proud of my title of “manager,” even if preceded by the word “assistant.” Truth be told, there were only two of us: the manager and me, so really, it wasn’t so impressive after all.

As assistant manager, I learned how to use a ten-key, an old school credit card machine, take inventory, deal with finicky customers, and certainly more about wallpaper than I ever thought I’d know. And I like wallpaper to a certain extent. I like paint better, but wallpaper really isn’t as bad as HGTV may tell you.

In fact, I’m wondering if I should once again make wallpaper my go-to cosmetic upgrade, and forever shun paint and it’s lustrous beauty and wide array of possible colors.

Once again, we are painting. I wrote a post back in the summer about our Berkeley painting adventures as we prepared to sell our house. Now here we are, working in reverse and making the home we just bought truly ours. Three to four guys have been here every day this week (and will be here tomorrow as well) to paint most of our main level as well as Rachel’s room.

I planned it perfectly.

Andy and Rachel would be out of town, and Aaron would go to preschool every day but Monday. That way we could avoid the chaos of our last painting experience. I made a DMV appointment and scheduled a haircut, which would get me out of the way, too. The rest of the time I would sit nice and quiet in my lovely, underused office working on interviews and writing a new pitch I have high hopes for.

Yeah, right. Best laid plans and all that jazz.

Rachel and Andy left Friday. It was bliss. Quiet, tidy, calm. Aaron ate like a gentleman and behaved nicely. All was going according to plan. For about 24 hours, anyway.

Saturday afternoon the projectile vomiting began, and it didn’t end until Wednesday. No fever or other symptoms, just throwing up. Lots and lots of it. By Monday, the day the painting began, the doctor’s office had called twice to urge me to take Aaron to the ER.

“Let him sleep for about two hours, then take him in.”

One hour and 50 minutes passed and the office called back: “Have you left yet?”

I hadn’t, because it hadn’t been two hours.

“Right,” she said. “Ten more minutes then go. But try water first, just in case. 5mls.”

Sick baby

Sick baby

So while Aaron sat in my arms, weak and lethargic, I syringed 3mls into the corner of his mouth. He gulped greedily and it stayed down. I tried 5mls more. It stayed down. This wasn’t the end of his sickness—not by a long shot—but we were out of the ER woods.

Then… I got sick. And when I say sick, I mean sick. So sick, in fact, that Andy (who was still in California) called my mom in Arkansas, and asked if she could come.

Of course,” she said.

Sixteen hours later she arrived to find me delirious and weak, with Aaron not faring much better.

And still, the men painted.

From 8am to 6pm every day, they painted. Amid delirium, vomit, crying, threatened ER trips in ice storms, and one very opinionated retired general contractor who had come to stay a while, they painted.

Still today, they paint.

And let me tell you, it looks great.

For a while, my mom and I mostly talked paint colors, but as time passed and I began to emerge from my virus-induced near death, Nana asked an essential question: “Isn’t there anyone here you could call? Not that I mind coming, but… isn’t there anyone?”

Well, no.

We’ve lived in this town since October. We’ve had folks over, and are having more next week. We know our neighbors, and some even came to Rachel’s birthday party. But who do you call for Pedialyte and Gatorade during an ice storm? When you desperately need help scrubbing the carpet before it stains and forever stinks? When your baby has gotten sick over and over again for days, but you yourself are too sick to bathe him, because who knows if you’ll pass out while he’s in the water?

That’s just a lot to ask.

“You know,” my mom said thoughtfully, “I tend to avoid the stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood.” She went on to explain, “I guess I’m afraid they’ll want to stop by and have coffee and talk, and I just don’t have time.”

“Mom,” I stared hard. “They are stay-at-home moms. THEY don’t have time.”

“True. But I’m also afraid they’ll ask me to babysit.” (in case it isn’t clear at this point, my mom is a very, very good babysitter.)

“I could see that.”

(But note: she flew from Arkansas to Maryland for a less-than-48-hour “visit” with two very sick people).

I know what she means. Sometimes I won’t even go check my mail because I’m scared I might get caught in a conversation that I’m “too busy” for. Yet… when that happens, it’s often quite enjoyable and even makes my day better. And sometimes, that little bit of conversation is just what my soul needs.

Andy and Rachel returned home last night. Andy brought me fries from my favorite California-only gourmet burger place (Barney’s, the home of our first date), and Rachel brought me lots of handmade presents and excited chatter. She and Nana stayed up past midnight doing only God knows what, and today Nana woke at 4am to fly back home, where she will spend the next few days babysitting for my sister and brother-in-law while they travel to Oklahoma for work.

After we finally shuttled everyone to their rooms for the night, I lay in bed, struggling against hunger and memories, unable to fall asleep: I miss Barney’s. I miss my in-laws so very much. The Facebook and texted pictures Andy sent this last week from their kitchen, from the Lawrence Hall whale, from Gordo’s, ran through my head, along with memories of our home, especially the Bay view we had from our deck.IMG_1763

I spent every moment possible on that deck, soaking up warm January sun and cold July fog, looking at the Oakland cranes to the left, San Francisco skyscapers to the right, and the Giants stadium in the middle. Come April (and maybe even October), I will so miss seeing their fireworks cut through night fog, not quite bright and brilliant, but beautiful. So beautiful.

I thought of these things and of my mom flying here to care for us. Of how much we love our new incredibly spacious and comfy home. I thought of my mom’s words: “isn’t there anyone here you could call?”

And just like that, I became officially homesick.

But I’ll keep waiting and watching and hoping and praying and writing of all these things in an up again/down again bloggy way, and someday it will all click perfectly into place. I know it will.

As for the paint, Andy and Rachel were both surprised and happy, because it really does look lovely. But I still wonder if next time maybe I shouldn’t try wallpaper.

Feeling better

Feeling better

A Non-Book Review for Ordinary Radicals

For better or worse, I grew up in a variety of faith traditions.

My childhood was spent in Southern Baptist and Methodist churches—the Southern Baptist part came from my dad, but I still don’t know how or why I ended up attending a Methodist church to which we had no apparent ties. As a teenager, I faithfully attended every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday service/youth group at a First Baptist church in Arkansas. After a move west, I found myself attending Charismatic services, then after yet another move, a church of the Nazarene. Both came about because of friend- and family ties. As an adult, Collin and I church hopped from place to place, trying to find a home. We ended up attending a Lutheran church for quite a while, then finally settled into the Presbyterian tradition, which is where I now make my denominational home.

One of the many benefits of experiencing a variety of traditions with vastly different ways of being is that I’ve come to disregard many doctrinal differences as irrelevant. You’ll seldom find me caught up in debate over finer points, and though I struggle to reconcile some conflicts in teaching, I mostly follow the creed of “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

Having begun my faith journey primarily in denominations that eschew ritual, I’ve long viewed liturgy as something that just isn’t for me. But at the start of this year, I began following Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. What is today…. January 9th? Yes, it is. And in these 9 days, I have felt the benefit of this to such an extreme that I want to shout it from the mountaintop.

In addition to the daily prayers and readings, there are other benefits. After the shooting in France, instead of our normal, brief dinner blessing, we prayed the Common Prayer for a killing in the neighborhood (isn’t the whole world our neighborhood?). At night when my daughter has said she “doesn’t know what to pray,” we’ve prayed the evening prayer together and sung songs from the back of the book, which, like me, come from a variety of tradition. So while we may start off with the Doxology and the Magnificat, we also make our way through Nothin’ but the Blood and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Of course, much of its benefit likely comes from this being a liturgy for ordinary radicals, of which I hope to be one. Keeping with the teachings of my yellow-dog Democrat dad, and living the life I devoted myself to somewhere around age 17, I am reminded daily of my commitment to the finer things in life: Justice. Mercy. Love. Peace. I never “forget” these things, but often I find myself too busy to do anything but remember them in my mind, never letting their truth reach my heart and hands. But in these last 9 days, I have found myself living more joyfully, more honestly, and with growing rededication to my long-ago chosen path.

Lest you think I am replacing scripture or individual prayer with ritual, let me assure you I am not. In fact, quite the opposite: I have found it much easier to fit both these things into my day, something I’ve been struggling with for years given the too-busy life we often lead. But that, too, is changing.

So why am I writing this non-book review? I don’t know. I’m not so presumptuous as to say others would definitely share a similar experience–I know we’re all different. I suppose it’s like when you eat at a really good restaurant: you want to go out and tell all your friends how great it was, how much you enjoyed it, and that maybe they should check it out on their next date night.

It’s only been 9 days. So either this resurgence will bottom out or it will grow stronger. I am so dearly hoping for the latter.

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Snow, Frankincense, and Myrrh

Today, it came.

For months we’ve been waiting, anticipating our first big snow as Marylanders. Even before we moved from California, we talked of a white Christmas, of snowballs and snowmen and all things cozy.

But until today, it never came.

There were false starts and promises, to be sure: One day we got flurries, barely more than thickened rain. Pixelated snowflakes have tantalizing flashed across my iPhone several times, only to be replaced mere moments later with drizzling drops of rain. And still we’ve hoped and waited, breath held, fingers crossed, only to wake to disappointment morning after morning.

So when weathermen and apps spoke of a coming snowstorm on this day, I barely blinked an eye. “Ha!” I thought. “Maybe some other folks believe that tale, but not me. There will be no snow this year.”

Despite my hardened heart, I checked for snow last night, last thing before I went to bed.

Still nothing.

This morning the day dawned different. When my alarm went off at 5am I felt… something. An urging. A voice telling me, “Look! Go see!” And so I did.

Much like ma in her kerchief and pa in his cap, Andy and I flung open the shutters and threw up the sash…. And what to our wondering eyes did appear? The luster of dawn shining through soft and snowy swirls. Our yard turned to a winter wonderland.

It was beautiful.

The unfulfilled promise of snow had left me jaded.

But when it came—pure, clean, ethereal—I gasped in awestruck wonder at the world washed white, my heart melting even as the ground around me hardened in the cold.

Today the news I heard came true, heralding a day full of magic and majesty and of a slate wiped clean, telling a story of the promised spring to come. Today we live softer, lighter, in rhythm with the glorious divine, in awe of the gift of snow.