If we moved directly from winter to summer this year, does that give us an out for not spring cleaning?!? We basically went from the 40’s to the 90’s with 80% humidity without any real transition. Without a good spring, the spirit for a renewal that comes from opening the windows and doors, moving the furniture to vacuum the winter-furnace dust bunnies, pulling out the fridge and stove to acknowledge with respect those dried elbow-macaroni’s and perhaps an apple core and a couple chili beans that made an escape underneath seems a moot point. One day the furnace, the next day the AC – same dust, different temp. Maybe I don’t feel so bad about the Christmas garland I still have draped over my kitchen upper-cabinets; sticking fake sunflowers among the greenery might be the way to go if we aren’t going to have appropriate seasonal transition time.
Spring is supposed to mean a new beginning of growth toward an awareness that winter doesn’t have the last word. The cold and dark and browns and grays s-l-o-w-l-y give way to those peaks of yellows and greens and buds only promising to be leaves as we move from March to June. But this year, BAM, we sorta just turned around and it had happened. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love having evenings last late and being able to be outside in the light earlier in the mornings, I simply didn’t feel that rhythm that helps mooooove us into all that. The “feel” of spring and fall are favorites of mine, so I simply miss them when they don’t quite happen in the way I expect. And maybe that’s the rub… when it simply doesn’t happen the way I expect. I told a friend recently that there are advantages and disadvantages to having a bent toward creativity – it mostly helps with writing and communicating and problem-solving; it sometimes doesn’t help in creating in my mind the way I want and believe and expect the world to be which it sometimes, more and less often than not, isn’t. Naive? Idealistic? Slow on the up-take? Maybe not rose-colored glasses, but perhaps they have a bit of a pink hue. I haven’t decided quite yet if I want to assign a value to any of that as good or bad, it probably just is what it is. The lack of my being realistic and my belief that I can make things the way I want them to be, especially for people about whom I have big care, sometimes brings huge disappointment that I wonder if might be worthy of mitigating.
I helped out with a wedding last week. I tend to do that quite a lot in the spring and summer and fall, or rather, the late winter-summer, full-blown summer-summer, and late summer-winter. It was a beautiful wedding, as they all are, with two people in big, old, love – yada, yada, yada – and… a ring-bearer. A three year old ring-bearer, nephew and god-son of the groom, and child of two other people whose wedding I officiated nine years ago! And he is way too cute of personality and precocity than anybody’s business. So here he is at the reception before the bridal party and bride and groom made their grand entrance.
I’d gone over to the mother of the groom’s table to give her the duplicate copy of the marriage license to keep for the newly-marrieds, and as I was standing there, two little striped-socked feet appeared up the back of the chair beside her. Grandma smiled and said that pretty much he was done with the whole ring-bearing, tuxedo-wearing, behave-to-expectations wedding gig. And his socks? In honor of uncle and god-parent who also likes socks a little wild and creative. You know, unexpected, as were the three year-old legs coming up the back of the chair at the mother of the groom’s reception table. I took a whole series of these pictures because it simply made me happy. The whole wedding thing was happy, I pretty much expected it to be. But these two little legs and feet upside down on a reception hall chair at one of the “important” tables was one of those moments that reminded me that unexpected moments are big pieces of God’s grace in ways that move beyond our sometimes created, and all too limiting, well-defined expectations.
In my expectations, where am I missing the striped socked feet upside down on a chair moments? The bride and groom and we group of clerical officiants appropriately worked for the day’s events to meet and/or exceed the expectations that once-in-a-lifetime moments are supposed to have. And we would and will do it again for the next one and the next one and the next one. And in the midst of the work toward it being the best and most sacred experience possible, there’s something to be said for taking a breath and opening to and even welcoming the unexpected moments that happen along the way. Maybe those days and the world aren’t exactly what our expectations create them to be, and maybe that’s one of the biggest gifts of grace there is if we’re open to and have the desire and courage of receiving it in that way.
I don’t know if I’ll still be kicking around this world when it’s time for Calvin to be married. But you have to know if I am, this series of pictures will appear, maybe at the rehearsal dinner, maybe at the wedding reception. They may appear anonymously while somewhere in this life or the next, an old white-haired woman wearing hearing-aids and quadrifocals will be sitting somewhere in the back of the room smiling at the memory of that one year when winter turned to summer without much warning, and life too, these two little legs with tiny striped-sock covered feet appeared up the back of a chair at the parents of the groom’s reception table and it made her smile the entire drive back to a world of Grace.