Slow Saturday Mornings

yellowstone trip 2004 075 - Version 2When my oldest two were four and seven and I was pregnant with the youngest, we went to Yellowstone. It was May. Deep snow lined the roads through the high mountain passes even while the sun made long sleeves unbearable.

Because I’m into conversation, every night I would ask the kids and my husband what their favorite thing had been from the day. My son talked about the bear we saw, hikes we took, and Castle Geyser’s eruption. My daughter’s answer? “That we ate breakfast together.”

It was the same every night.

She’d watched bison and elk, climbed rocks, and invented a game called “catch-stick” that we still play at the Firehole River Picnic Area. She hiked, quite happily, for miles, laid hold of a “bear-fighting stick” that she planned to defend the family with, and had even seen a bear. She did all this, and her favorite thing was that we ate breakfast together?

Apparently.

Breakfast together was a daily event at home. At least, it was for the kids and me. Her Daddy was at work by the time we sat down to eat. She is what we call in our family a “we,” one who, while extremely comfortable with her own company, likes to share even life’s little adventures with others,  adventures like breakfast.

Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail, Yellowstone National Park

That was ten years ago and while my kids have been busy growing and changing, some things have stayed the same. Castle is still my son’s favorite geyser. For my daughter, the best part of an evening or a visit with friends or family is, in her words, “just hanging out.”

Monday through Friday we still eat breakfast without Dad. On Saturdays, though, we have breakfast together. It’s a late one and we call it brunch. It’s one of the best parts of our week, the capstone of a slow Saturday morning.

Not all Saturday mornings are slow. Some start fast and don’t end until we’re ready to drop after dark. Our kids have activities. We have a home and a yard to keep up. Some days we’re just gone and on the go all day long.

But a slow Saturday morning when I’m up before the sun and the house stays quiet for a long time? This is where I carve out some mental space in the midst of a busy week. It’s where I create the stillness which I’ve learned that my soul needs to thrive.  I read. I think. The fog in my brain dissipates.

As the sun rises, the family trickles in sleepily  from their rooms. Bearing books or blankets or Bibles, they snuggle up to me on the couch or crash in a big comfy chair. They read. They stare out at the window at the rising sun. Sometimes they drift back to sleep.

Eventually, though, we must rise and move toward our day and whatever tasks it holds. Mine are in the kitchen.

Life in my kitchen runs on a predictable cycle of feast then famine. A few days of food flowing from cupboard to oven to table are invariably followed by two or three weeks of culinary chaos. We eat. Looking back, I can never determine exactly what, because I didn’t cook enough to make that many leftovers.

Hopeful for less famine and more feast, I use these mornings to prepare not only our brunch but for the week ahead. While brunch bakes I mix up a batch of muffin mix, or dough forArtisan Bread in Five, or prepare a big salad for the week. It helps.

My littlest girl likes to set a pretty table. When both she and the food are ready, we sit and pray and talk about the week behind and the one to come. Then the slow part is over. Life resumes again its normal pace, faster and louder than I would like, but tolerable after a slow Saturday morning.

And you? Is there a place in your week where you can make some mental space? Or, you already have that, what do you do?

Sharing at The Weekend Brew , Still SaturdayInspire Me Monday and Thought Provoking Thursday.

For This September: Sometimes We Get In Over Our Heads

My parents are not lake people. They aren’t river people. When my brother and I occasionally talked about swimming in a nearby lake, they talked about field runoff. So when my mom told me we would be wading a river as we–my parents, the five grandchildren, and I–made our way from Iowa to San Antonio, I suspected travel psychosis in one of its more optimistic forms.

The starting point was the Pedernales campground, where we were taking a blessed break from the road for a couple of days. We wrapped the children in life jackets and our feet in water shoes, and cautiously began the Great Wade. The Pedernales’ chalky water swirled around our ankles.

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We hadn’t gone far when the water began to deepen. It crept above our calves and inched over our knees.  As it rose the smallest children began to float. The water reached our waists.  Nothing was posted about the river’s depth and we hadn’t seen this coming. We pressed on, delighted children bobbing at our sides. One step more and the riverbed was gone. There we were, five gleeful children and three adults unaccustomed to immersion in non-chlorinated water, unexpectedly floating along with the little ones, impatient for the riverbed’s return.

Return it did, in the same way it had gone; leaving us to walk, dripping wet, through the humid Texas heat toward our campsite, where we would exit and shower. Immediately.

Our walk through the Pedernales should not have come as a surprise. It’s the nature of the river. And life. We walk along, barely noticing the water deepen until it gets high enough to make each step an effort, perhaps wondering how far it will go on like this when on the next step, the riverbed disappears.

That the river will rise can’t be helped. New babies and new jobs, illnesses and unemployment, relocations and relational troubles of every kind narrow the banks and deepen the water.

We have to float our way through, knowing that eventually the terrain will change. The baby will grow and the job will–finally–be adjusted to. Illness and unemployment will run their course. Eventually, the water recedes and our feet, yours and mine, will find the bottom.

I don’t like getting in over my head, floating when I’d rather be wading, but the real trouble doesn’t come from getting in over my head, it comes from staying that way. I’ve been known to narrow my own banks, overfilling the days, the hours, and the minutes. I get myself in over my head and I take the whole household with me. Life jackets won’t help a family survive mom’s busy life. They’re along for the ride and they need me to pay attention to the water level.

This is where it gets difficult. The nature of this section of the river, its pace and its footing, are my own design, and it will flow on, fast and deep, until I take some pressure off the banks, until I make a change.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life, a haunting warning I recently ran across. I like to go. I like to do. I need stillness. Without that, the small voice is drown out.

Just as I followed my parents into the Pedernales, my children follow me. They watch to learn to live. One of my jobs as a mom is to help them with the hard work of learning, to guide them through shallow water swirling around their ankles and hold their hands when it rises. They’re watching me all the time, and they see how I navigate the natural rhythm of the river and what I do when my own choices threaten to send it over its banks. They need to learn how to float, how to take pressure off the banks, and how to be still. Soon they’ll be navigating rivers of their own.