Thank You, Loving Impetus, for consensus at that November lunch. Thanks for Neighborhood Fellowship’s January launch in Wednesday morning Bible Studies at DC CRC. Thank You, Life Director, for Youth Group leaders and Duff’s part in another great musical. Thanks for Rhonda’s class song lyrics still flowing in my soul: Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them and a friend will not say never for the welcome will not end; though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hand we know that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends. Thanks for Jean’s hugs and kisses easing my worries, Mom’s depression, Gram’s pain and confusion. Thank You, Wondrous Re-Creator, for the watercolor class back at Calvin that summer.
Yearning to write, I did some Scripture meditations and lots of journal prayers. Worked six part-time jobs; Sligo Gardens Nursing Home Recreation, best, paid least. Ted worked three jobs including a Post paper route, but we could barely make payments on Aunt Ruth's loan. Still, joys multiplied: Rhonda's godmother Myrtle saw to it we got a piano; Christopher, Rhonda and Myrtle's son Newt bonded at church youth group; I found Body & Soul Aerobics at another church; got my ocean fix on trips to Virginia Beach where Gram VDK now lived with Mom & Dad. Beauty of trees and plants lifted my spirit.
Duff was 13, Rhonda 12, Jean 4; I felt like their big sister, helping D and R with the paper route, trying to "Be Happy" as J advised. T and I did Marriage Encounter and I taught art one more year at WCS while debts, delays and disagreements caused my first recorded death wish. The woodstove was finally installed; we moved to "Dome Shalom" in February. I was into needlecrafts like my Grandmas; praying about a ministry with seniors, glad to be a bridesmaid one more time as Nancy married Marvin Jager.
With birthday money I subscribed to Sojourners and The Other Side. We were back in Maryland, kids back in Christian school and I was pleased to be teaching Art there. Ted had bought a lovely lot on a wooded hill in Takoma Park where he would build his dream house, a geodesic dome. We rented a house in Wheaton for six months. On March 28, church friends helped Ted nail and raise the ninety-triangle frame, including hexagon & pentagon windows. I was eager to move in, but finishing would take many months. We were blessed meanwhile to live in Bosma's house. To stay grounded in the whirl of helping finish the dome, driving the kids to their Takoma Park paper route, teaching, and doing APJ work, I read at least a book a week: Lewis's Narnia tales, Lion of Judah, and space trilogy; O'Connor's Journey Inward, Journey Outward and Our Many Selves; Seerveld's Rainbows for a Fallen World; DeWitt's Earthkeeping. Wrote in my journal: We will not be permitted to finish building our house, I believe, until we build our home (family). Though it seems impossible to finance and find time to finish the dome, it is even more difficult to build a home--takes things that can't be bought with money or work, like humility, prayer, love, patience. And all the seeming gain of one day can be lost by a careless word or the slight overindulgence of introspection.
We sold our Hyattsville house with Ted's repairs and new siding, left the place I'd lived longest so far; moved to Virginia, Ted's new Capax sales territory, bought a townhouse in Burke where Dad was church planting, Mom or Gram glad to be with Jean while I subbed at Lake Braddock High School and followed Joyce and Mom doing Association for Public Justice mailings. Duff and Rhonda were in public school: no more daily carpools but church commute time doubled. Two or three mile early morning runs fused my body/mind/spirit. Praying the Psalm verse "Bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me" I wrote "Counsel me now as I seek a mission and a community." Graham Pulkingham's books and a New Testament class with Margery Bankson at Church of the Savior fired me up.
Yes, we had a cat then, guess her name was Calico; she intrigued toddler Jean. But ways to make money engrossed me: had to be home-based, no more 9-5; we sold Successful Living books, then Amway (anathema to my soul but got me out talking with people); I preferred kitchen table survey or data edit jobs. My evening haven became a Scripture-based prayer journal: each week that year one word sung in six different verses held, soothed, rocked my spirit into calm sleep. Sister Joyce (wearing Mom's gown) married Dave Campbell at DCCRC: Nancy and I were bridesmaids; what a joyous family time!
SuperLove supplied Duffy and Rhonda with joyous care: neighbor Mrs. Milich was always there with a yard full of kids; Cousin Chris Cramer from Michigan nannied one summer month; Aunts Nancy and Joyce lived in the metro area; room & boarders like George Cooper and Dave Campbell helped out; best of all were overnights with church softball team families. Holy Joy bore me through another long Sunday of labor, this time with Lamaze breaths, two trips to Baltimore and a walk with Ted by the harbor between cervical exams. At 12:10 a.m. on my thirty-first birthday in the University of Maryland hospital lobby an administrative nurse delivered our daughter Jean. Flurries of visual arts and writings overflowed the six weeks I took off work, including a five page account "My Birth Day". Jesus' Peace Power kept us confident we could support our growing family of five and I still dreamed we'd adopt a son.
Goodnight everybody. I love you. No one is here. I'm in my house alone but the psychologist says you're inside me and I know you're with me because you were in my thoughts today and in my own way I was trying to love you. Goodnight God. You are here. You're the one that keeps me trying to love, so I love You even though I've never seen You. Goodnight husband and mother and father. Your love has overwhelmed me. I'd be ungrateful not to show at least some semblance of patient, faithful love. Goodnight Aunt. You have loved without demands and I love you for bearing the burdens you have and living the life you do. Goodnight friends at church. You have the potential of being a great support and for this vision I love you though the tie that binds stretches thin across miles and days. Goodnight everyone in the world who has a sad life, lacking food, being in war zones, lonely, needy. Although we share this planet we have not learned to share. My love goes reaching out toward you but doesn't reach you. Tomorrow I will try to love you again. Goodnight my daughter. You are my adopted child, bright, beautiful, black, precious little growing girl who needs so much love. I'm with you. I'm your mother. I pray for strength to keep your home full of happiness and love. Goodnight my son. You were born from me. I'm so proud of your creative energy, your strong sports-loving body and quick mind. I'm with you in your emotional vulnerability. I'm your mother. I pray for strength to keep your home stable and secure. Goodnight everybody, see you tomorrow. This was the prayer I wrote after a period of death-wish depression and before my second pregnancy.
At my first and only corporate job interview the boss asked if I knew the company's purpose. Uh... collecting information to improve the railroad system? No, our purpose is to make money, he said. Once in Michigan I'd worked a month of night shifts inserting U-bolts on an assembly line and vowed never to work only or even primarily for money again. But now we needed money so I was relieved to get this data entry job with Price Williams in Silver Spring. Accurate coding was a mind game, dependable as regular paychecks. Lunch hours, evenings, weekends, holidays real life played out with family and friends on picnics and camping trips, at parties in homes, yards, parks, schools and churches.
What an adolescent I was! Still had pimples, mood swings, even crushes. Envied Nancy's carefree dating life and kindergarten teaching; envied Aunt Ruth's Oxford life and college teaching; searched want ads for better paying work for Ted or me; didn't savor the joys of conversation with children. Today, reading Etty's diary of her 28th year, I realize writing was what I was missing, especially writing to You which I do now in her words: I now realise, God, how much You have given me. So much that was beautiful and so much that was hard to bear. Yet whenever I showed myself ready to bear it, the hard was directly transformed into the beautiful. And the beautiful was sometimes much harder to bear, so overpowering did it seem. To think that one small human heart can experience so much, oh God, so much suffering and so much love, I am so grateful to You, God, for having chosen my heart, in these times, to experience all the things it has experienced.