Perspective is humbling.
Yesterday, as the news of the Moore Tornado flooded my stream, the gift of life, the gift of the every day normal perspective returned with force and conviction. Lives devastated in seconds.
Yet, that very night after watching CNN’s live coverage, as I tucked my very sweet three year old Samuel into his bed with the John Deere blanket pulled up to his chin and the Backyardigan pillow under his head I quickly replied not now to reading him a bedtime story.
Several times, that sweet boy asked me to read him just one book. And several times I told him no. I wish I could figure out a reason, but really, it was just because I had things to do, dishes to wash, and a living room to bring back to order. And then, then as I pulled the room darkening shades and picked up the matchbox cars strewn about his room I remembered again how those moments with a three year old asking for his momma to read him a book at night are actually gifts tucked into the fabric of time. It was as if the flood of perspective rushed over me – reading a book at bedtime is normal – that normal is so beautiful – and so missed by those who have to endure with having it removed forcefully from them.
It’s so easily forgotten in a world of expectations, to-do lists, and every day stuff.
A couple of years ago my kids were playing outside with neighbor friends just after a wicked storm passed through our city. As they ran in the sun, with umbrellas just in case, it started to hail. Now, I realize, in hindsight that hail falling in bright sun with black clouds all around was a clue to severe weather that hadn’t left. And then, as I scanned the sky over my neighbor’s home, I saw a funnel cloud forming and dropping down. Despite the kids exclaiming that it was sunny and great out now, I yelled for all the kids to get in their homes as quick as possible. Within minutes of my kids rushing down the stairs to the corner in the basement the sirens began to sound – a sound that pierces the heart and jolts perspective into place. It was a tiny tornado – an f1 – that cut a path through the farms to the west of us and destroyed a house about a mile from me.
Perspective: the width of the tornado yesterday was the distance from my house to that house that was damaged several years ago on that sunny post storm afternoon. And at points it was doubled. Two miles.
I think of that sometimes and it humbles me greatly. I look at my neighborhood – with our manicured yards, petunias hanging from the porches, Little Tike toys out in the backyard, trees with buds – and I think about how I so quickly lose perspective and gratitude for it all being simply normal. And then days like yesterday happen. Or the Boston Marathon. Or that horrible school shooting last December that reminded my why vacuuming should always be beautiful. And with those harsh wake up cries perspective returns to me, the mom that gets to busy with life, and sometimes forgets to see the little things, the little moments, that are gifts.
And when perspective returns, when it rips the blinders of the stability of often forgotten peace of normal, then those moments in the bedroom with my three year old all of a sudden become more poignant, more important, and something to embrace.
Yes, Samuel, lets read a story.
So we read. Me resting on a pillow next to him, reading books about winter with animals gathering sticks and coal to build a snowman, and then about spring with it’s glorious sounds and sights, and him sighing content as the words left my mouth. It was normal, that beautiful normal, the simple moments tucked in a world that has so many devastating things that could happen. You and I and the next person have this challenge – this battle cry – to keep perspective on normal and it’s beauty and to embrace living a life that at its core has a profound gratitude for the simple, often forgotten, little things and moments.
One mile wide. Drive a mile today. Walk a mile. Get perspective on a mile. Double that.
And then, then when you walk back into your life, and into your mothering journey, bring that perspective back into your everyday. Slow down just for a bit, hug on your children, tell them you love them, call a friend and thank them for being in your life, say no to the not urgents and yes to your kids, take that walk, and cut time out of your busy and needed things to do, to do those extra things. Read the book. Hold them longer in the rocking chair. What are you putting off for tomorrow that you should simply do today? Appreciate the normal beauty in your life. Gratitude changes perspective.
My heart goes out to Oklahoma. Please join me in praying for them.
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