The paid job: When I started balancing my drawer at work today, the balance sheet came up $1 off. My first response was "So where did I make a mistake on the balance sheet? Did I count one too few $1-bills? Did I put an extra $1-bill in my 'rag' pile and forget to change the entry for mutilated money on my balance sheet?" It didn't cross my mind that maybe I'd counted wrong when I was taking in cash or giving out cash to a customer. That's a good sign! That means I so seldom make cash-counting errors that my assumption is simply a problem with the balance sheet and not the actual amount of cash in my cash drawer.
The unpaid job, the main job: I've been forcing encouraging Maggie to work with me more in the garden. She has been, and she's finding it not as abhorrent as she expected. We're getting the garden put to bed for the winter much faster than if I were doing the work alone. She's learning something. She's being helpful. And on top of it all, it's been very nice to work alongside her, talking as we go. Besides, could you ask for a more gorgeous week to be working outdoors? As unbelievable as it seems to me, most of the garden work is done, and there is actually an end in sight within the next few days.
But the tomatoes are done. The sadness of eating the last tomato is so so sad. It makes a person desperately yearn for next July.
I understand that I was more into free-range parenting than most other parents I knew. I also understand that, in the past 25 years, society has leaned much further in the direction of Protecting Children At All Costs. But, really, now, c'mon....
For the last two days, I have spent copious hours in the garden, catching up on weeding and tilling that hadn't been done properly since last spring last year. I had kids out there helping me for a good part of the time. The next-door-neighbor kids have a babysitter who's been around for over a year. If I remember correctly, Katie has even taken Alia over to play with those kids and chatted with the sitter.
So I'm sitting in the dirt, trying to separate the Creeping Charley and the grass from my perennial onions. The 3-yr-old girl next door comes over to chat a bit. She's done that several times on weekends when her daddy is working in the yard. But today the babysitter is there. The babysitter called the girl back to the patio. Eventually, the girl wandered back in my direction; she was interested in what I was up to; she wanted to ask about my strawberry patch; she was having a hard time understanding that today I was working on the onions and not the strawberries. Please imagine the picture. The girl is in her own yard, and I am in mine. She is nowhere within my reach -- never closer than 10-15 feet away from me. I am sitting, not standing; I can't bolt over to grab her. We are both in full view of the sitter, only about 40-50 feet from her. We are far enough apart that we have to raise our voices to be heard by each other.
But still, the sitter kept calling the child back to the patio. At one point, I smiled and called to the sitter, "Oh, it's no problem; she's not bothering me!" The sitter ignored my comment: "Come back here and stay on the concrete patio. Don't you go over there!" Pretty soon, the sitter even had interjected herself in the boys' game of catch, rounding up the 6-yr-old and 8-yr-old on the patio, putting herself in the yard where they'd been, stationing herself between me and her charges. She gave them instructions not to go out into the yard.
It would make perfect sense to me if the sitter didn't want the kids to follow me into the garage. She doesn't know me well enough to use me for a back-up sitter if an emergency should come up. I understand this. But to keep the kids corralled in a small space outside on a gorgeous day because the neighbor happens to be outside too? Oh dear me.
I guess I'm very bad and vengeful. You know that verse? If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.
It always struck me as if it were saying, "Be really nice to the dudes who hate you. That'll make 'em feel guilty. Oh yeah, if you're good to them when they're rotten to you, that'll show them! So ha!" What a guilt-free way to get 'em back ... by making them feel small for what they did to such a nice person as you.
Now, that wouldn't be exactly, uh, selfless and giving, now would it??
But you know what? When Isaiah saw heaven and was commissioned to be God's prophet (Isaiah 6) the angel took a coal from the altar and placed it on Isaiah's lips and said, This has has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.
So maybe the coals are not about "Ha! Got you! Don't you feel bad now?" but maybe it's just plain about the forgiveness of sins. If your enemy is hungry, feed him even though he expects retaliation. If your enemy is thirsty, give him a drink even though he wouldn't do that for you. For in doing so, you will show mercy and forgiveness, and if the absolution is heaped upon his head, it may purge his sin and work love & faith in his heart. "And you will gain your brother."
God had said, "In the day that you eat of [the fruit of the tree of knowledge] you shall surely die." Then Adam and Eve ate the fruit anyway. A very common question is "Why didn't they drop dead, then and there?"
In yesterday's sermon, Pastor talked about the answers typically given to that question and that there is truth in those answers: they were immediately separated from God; they began to die. But he posited another answer: they didn't keel over and die instantaneously because God is longsuffering. He is patient. He doesn't zot people but gives them time, calling and calling and calling them back to Himself. Adam and Eve weren't zotted, and this was the first demonstration of a God who put up with garbage from His people whom He loved. (We heard about this in the Isaiah 5 reading and the Matthew 21 reading this Sunday.) He loved, they rejected, and still He loved. Still He forgave. Still He bore with them.
The martyr first whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave, who saw his Master in the sky and called on Him to save. Like Him, with pardon on his tongue, in midst of mortal pain, he prayed for them that did the wrong -- who follows in his train?
Four loaves of bread. Turning a pie-pumpkin into a pumpkin pie. Roasting the seeds. Stewing two chickens for meals later this week. Teriyaki chicken and rice for tonight's supper. Setting some batches of kombucha to brew. Mashed potatoes to make salmon patties tomorrow. And hopefully a batch of cookies.
And with these goals, I still think I'm going to do yardwork??? And schoolwork with Maggie? And clean the house? I have no sense of proportion.
Hey, you know what I did yesterday?That's a pile of birch, maple, apple, cherry, lilac, locust, and crabapple branches. There's still quite a bit of tree-trimming to do in the next two weeks before the town's brush pick-up. I better have the good sense not to wield the pruning saw today: my shoulders are still aching from yesterday's efforts.
There was a florist in Delavan who asked us for our downed birch twigs and our tree trimmings from the birches. She loved how they look in flower arrangements. While picking up the mess I made in the yard yesterday, I noticed again how beautiful those twigs are!
Yesterday I unplugged from half my Facebook friends. This doesn't mean they aren't friends any more, but it does mean that I won't be keeping up with their daily lives like I have been. I want to say that I'll still be interacting with many of these people on a homeschooling email list, but I'm not as involved there as I used to be.
As I was getting ready to leave for work yesterday, Katie called and asked about the annual bird-banding presentation in Horicon. It would be a fun and educational outing for her and the girls. Katie's job is a lot more fun and fulfilling than my job.
Last week we cleaned the garage. We took quite a few items to Goodwill. There are homeschooling items I'm willing to sell. But there are a lot more I'm not willing to part with yet.
As much as I may enjoy my job (y'know, with its being a job and all), the downside is that I'm taking on my job at the bank in the wake of having had The Best Job In The Whole World. And that would make anything pale in comparison.
I don't want to get rid of those books. That would mean admitting that I'm done with them. I don't want to get rid of craft kits. That would mean admitting that I'm not going to teach Maggie how to use them. I don't want to disengage from gatherings of homeschool mommies (whether in person or online) because that would mean admitting that I'm done with that job and on to the next stage of life.
We're used to people getting better at their jobs, continuing in increasing enjoyment of their work as they hone their skills and advance in doing the part of the job they do best. But today's economy doesn't allow for that so much any more. So I'm not the only one saying goodbye to the best job I ever had or ever will have.