Monday, June 20, 2016

Waxing and Waning...Real Life

The waxing moon, so close to full illumination, shined down upon us as the entire family spent the latter part of the evening enjoying one another's company on the cool darkened patio.  Kenny and Josh, re-enacting some super hero scene on the trampoline, Dominick's face aglow as he researched store items on the iPad, and the girls, Matt and I sit snuggled up side by side on the picnic table, the occasional swipe at a mosquito the only interruption to our inconsequential conversation.  We lean on one another, one head on one shoulder, then a shift the other direction, as we tell silly jokes, reminisce about younger years, and just soak up the simple pleasure of being safe in "our" place with the people we love the most, where acceptance is always present, where quirks are known, and encouragement is but a word away.

Earlier we had gathered at a friend's house, shared a Father's Day supper and continued with an ongoing study of what the Bible really is and means.  Somehow, we began talking about what was considered sacred, and what "sacred" really meant.  The Bible, Koran, or Torah can be sacred, cathedrals can be sacred, landscapes of inescapable beauty can be sacred, too.  We can find the sacred in relationship with one another, when our heart skips a beat and we open another door so that the one before us can see more of who we really are...oh, that is sacred beyond all doubt.

For me, my family is sacred, and our home is a sacred place.  It is a place where healing has occurred, both for our family and others.  It is where you can be all of who you are, feel all of what you feel, and say all of what needs to be said...and still be held closely.  Our home is a place where respect is expected, where the Spirit isn't just invited in but hovers around us, nudging  and enlightening us.  Don't get me wrong, I am not one who is tied to material things at all, and I could easily leave this structure and create another sacred home elsewhere...but this home matters right now, and it is where "my people" live or are invited in to be loved and cared for.

We all live in a home where nothing is perfect, and yet somehow, that alone makes it the ideal place to be.  There are some days that gently wrap around you, pulling you in and creating a nest for you to rest in.  That is what the past few days have been for me, as I look around at this family that God called to be as one, and I reflect on how far we have all come together, how wonderful it is to be in the midst of this, and how much distance yet still left to travel.  What lovely and loving companions I have for the journey still before me!  Gratitude oozes from every pore this night, peace envelopes me, and all problems seem a little less overwhelming, despite their  acknowledged presence.

Last weekend we celebrated Matt's 17th birthday (Can you believe it??) with a little family escape to Denver to visit our first Maker Faire.  We have had very little time together without work hovering over us, so this was a much needed opportunity to reconnect more deeply, as well as to explore the Maker world, described as "an event created by Make magazine to celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset".  We weren't quite sure what to expect, but we knew it would probably be interesting and it would have displays of great interest to Matt.  As it turned out, we all loved it, and hope to go to another sometime!

As we waited outside, I forced them all to pose for a picture together, as it has been awhile since I had one with them all!

Once inside the event, held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, we entered a world which somehow expertly combined both high tech and low tech to create one fascinating day for us all.  We watched someone create handmade lace, which is somewhat of a dying art:

The incomplete piece below has already taken the artisan over 60 hours to get this far!

We watched demonstrations by scientists.

Explored CNC technology...

Tried our hand at lock picking...for real!

Ok, a couple were stymied and never quite got the hang of it :-)

We also saw the inner workings of the various parts to a pinball machine and learned how they all worked together to create the much beloved games.

One of the most interesting things we did was to visit with a poet, who took a single word offered by each of us, and crafted a poem on the spot.  

Here, we are, waiting for our poem to be was fascinating!

The words offered were:

Dominick:  Maddening
Cindy:  Drone
Angela:  Gypsy
Olesya:  Seriously
Kenny:  Joy
Josh:  Orange
Matt:  Nebula

Hmmm...what was he going to do with this strange little collection of words.  Wow, in mere minutes he returned something pretty amazing!

Let your joy be maddening, 
let it drive you utterly crazy, 
abandon anything that does not feed you,
that does not nourish you as you make your way,
wanderingly, the eternal gypsy, 
with everywhere your home.
And people will call you crazy,
they will call you their one true love,
and they will call you jackass,
but none of that matters, 
none of this is to be taken seriously.
Our little finite minds making sand castles, 
to stand for eternity
and the oranges and reds and blues exploding 
in a nebula, dazzle and delight,
and yet they could be tragedy and disaster for others.
But beauty is only for the beholder,
as is tragedy,
you should take it all personally,
and let the drone of the multitudes, 
blend into the background,
as the ample theme music to your life,
and your own daring acts of living.

For someone who didn't know us, we all found this to be quite eloquent in terms of how it described our family and the way we try to live our lives...ignoring the finite minds of others, letting the droning of others blend into the background as theme music to our own daring acts of living.  We've been called crazy, that's for sure!  Someone's one true love?  Eh, ok, not so much :-)  The kids all loved this and each took a photo with their devices to save.

Matthew was in seventh heaven as he wandered from booth to booth, speaking with vendors about laser cutters, 3D printers, electronic components, and much more.  There were several booths there from colleges and trade/tech schools, but he was uninterested in them despite several of them offering courses of study I know were along the lines of his interest.  I am wise enough to recognize he has a path laid out before him that feels authentic and true to him for his future, even if ill defined at the moment, it has some form and substance to it and we are trusting what he obviously feels called to do, as well as how he feels called to do it.  College has been discussed numerous times, with pros and cons thoroughly explored.  I am learning daily that truly gifted kids are marching to the beat of a different drummer, and my role is to simply suggest various rhythms.

We don't often talk about Matt's giftedness, though it has grown more evident the past couple of years as he blossoms more and more into his own true self.  His quiet and helpful nature is reflected in how he explains things clearly to his siblings, never talking down to them, always excited to share some new factoid and then go to the white board to create diagrams to help us all better understand.  He is proving to have quite a gift at teaching complicated topics in easy to understand language.  The fact that he is also considered twice exceptional, with a learning disability in writing, makes it all the more interesting.  He is one of the most passionate learners I have ever encountered (in our house, that takes some doing as they all really are), and he is quietly self-educating in a wide variety of topics of interest to him.  Economics and economic theory, physics, computer coding, ethics, the art of great design, and more are all areas where I am simply providing access and asking him to share with me what he finds interesting, facilitating far more than teaching, and being a sounding board for his ideas.  His last library visit included a tome on the history of Rome, Einstein for Dummies, Python Playground (Python is a coding language), Digital Handmade (a beautiful book on how 3D printing and other additive or subtractive equipment are being used in the creation of art), and Why Beauty is Truth:  A History of Symmetry.  No, I can no longer keep up with him.  No, I don't view that as a problem in educating him...again, I am a facilitator, not the educator and Know It All.  No, I am not worried about him or his future.  I've trusted his (and my) gut and God this far, no reason to stop now.  This next year, in addition to a full course load for his senior year, he wants to add in College Algebra and some sort of course yet to be nailed down on RFID technology and other radio wave "stuff" (Please don't ask me anything more! Hahaha!).

Soooooo, needless to say, this event was very satisfying for him, a great way to celebrate his birthday.  The bonus was that all of us discovered new and interesting things at the Faire, we all left praising the event and talking about each of our favorite exhibits.  Everyone was quite taken with a presentation in the planetarium, where you felt as if you were racing through the galaxy.  Josh and Olesya were both also quite fascinated by the Raptor Exhibit, where various birds of prey were on display.

The next day included a meandering through IKEA and dreaming of home decorating ideas with the girls...dreams that will never be able to afforded, though those kitchens are really awesome!  We also did an Escape Room together, which everyone chipped in to pay for.  For those who have never heard of it before, an Escape Room is an interactive experience, sort of like walking into a video game puzzle room.  They are becoming all the rage and you are locked into a room with a particular setting and story line, with clues hidden that you need to figure it out in order to escape your room.  We did manage to escape within the allotted one hour time frame, but it was not easy!

After returning home, we jumped back into our summer routine, which for the first time in a long time isn't including much school.  Mom needed a true break in order to re-invigorate myself for the coming year, which will be filled with a wide variety of topics to learn, and a lot of thought required on my part.  The girls are very much enjoying their volunteering, with Olesya working at the shelter and Angela volunteering at the nursing home.

She's official!

When I pulled up to get Angela Tuesday afternoon, she was sitting outside visiting with an older resident and they were clearly in deep conversation.  Though she saw me, she continued to offer her gift of presence to this gentleman, knowing I would "get it" that she was exactly where she needed to be in the moment.  Oh, what a sweet and gentle way she has with the elderly!  I sat there in the car, watching her from afar, loving her so very much as I thought of how much softer that heart of hers has grown...and how much larger.  So much intentional work on her part around smoothing the rough edges caused by her past, I couldn't be more touched by all she has successfully worked on in herself, and how much that matters to her.  This young woman has the most beautiful soul, and a sense of self-awareness rarely found in someone so young.

Kenny also had a fantastic growing experience at camp counselor training a couple of weeks ago, spending the weekend learning the ropes, and finding a peer group who sees how much he has to offer with a little outside help.  It was a very important event for him, as he walked away telling me he finally felt like he was among a group of people with whom he really belonged for the very first time.  Yes, he forgot his sleeping bag.  Yes, he forgot his pillow.  Yes, he forgot a towel.  Yes, he forgot his way back from the chapel and had to return and go the other way :-)  But he sees how he can contribute in a meaningful way, he sees how he can be part of something separate from his family as long as the support and understanding of his disabilities is there...and it clearly was, much to our unending gratitude.  Our road with Kenny is not a straight highway, but a winding canyon road, with switchbacks galore.  I have no idea where it is leading him for his future, but I am determined to be by his side 100% helping him figure it out, and I know God can use him in ways I can't even fathom...and probably already IS using him.

In the midst of the early summer sweetness has been some major financial chaos, with a couple of surprises with the business expenses that are huge, Matt's new braces that were a must due to damage occurring, a broken oven, a broken swamp cooler, and a broken BBQ as of this afternoon.  Yea, all in 2 weeks time.  Buying a home that was new when purchased almost 20 years ago means every appliance goes around the same time...::Sigh::  But in the face of what has every right to panic us, we are at peace.  It's all ok, looking around us we are managing to make it somehow, and I trust that will continue even if it isn't easy.  The Spirit is present to light the way, carrying us through the dark and sometimes...on days like today...actually providing emotional space to figuratively sun bathe and let it all go for a bit.  Like the moon which waxes and wanes, so too does life.  But whether you can see all that is before you clearly, or not, you know the solidity is there, and it will only take patience and little bit of time before all is clear and illuminated just for you.

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