Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ample Opportunity

This morning I overslept! I awakened to voices chanting, " March! March! leeft...leeft...March!" Salome' stomped resolutely down the hall followed by three willing toddlers in striped pajamas. Was she a prison guard or the ousted nanny before Maria's arrival in the Von Trapp family? Regardless of the title, Salome' reveled in her leadership position. Following well is an underdeveloped skill so far, in this young, rascally clan. I stepped in line with the little parade down the stairs to the kitchen and found the remnants of buttered rolls, jalapeno cheese sticks and frozen raspberries; of course she had fed them first! My grandmother's advice to my mom in her early years of marriage was, "Serve food first, everything [everyone] else follows!"

Friday evening was no exception to this timeless wisdom. Elias' original plans for an after-banquet-party consisted of a small group of friends, however, upon arrival, I realized our Pied Piper had not denied a single person invitation; the pile of shoes at the door and the chorus of animated voices, indicated a healthy houseful of teenagers! Elias hosted with ease and generosity, he played improvisational pieces on the piano and sang. He was acutely aware of the necessity to draw out some and pull in others, for all to know they were welcome and valued.
Our sweet Magdalene helped me to prepare the party, but slipped into cozy pajamas and disappeared just before the door handle turned at the arrival of the first guest. She secluded herself in her soft blue bedroom where she wrapped many of the Christmas gifts she had purchased with me, as my holiday personal shopper earlier that day. With joy she organizes and dances her way through our busy life, which lightens my load immensely. To my sadness, I had not had eyes to see her desire to join the party. I must sometimes look beyond Magdalene's compassion, to the quietness of her own needs. She may not even express them to herself. I must remember to watch and listen, even when the setting in which we are feels transparent, she may not be.
On the eve of Elias' party, Malachi served by laying out a separate, elaborate spread of “party food”(mostly the sweetest kind) in the master bathroom! He set up chairs, blankets and for entertainment, the “I Love Lucy” DVDs for him, Salome’ and me. He is profoundly gifted in the art of bedtime extension, and he states his thoughts loudly in action. Thus his plan of hiding like little mice upstairs, gave us our own special celebration without invading the teenagers. Salome’ politely relayed her thankfulness to her brother for including her, but could not resist flitting away several times to admire the pretty dresses the girls wore and to try on the gorgeous shoes left at the door! She also voiced her motherly concern over the loudness of the guests, in fear that they may awaken her babies!
"True service is never convenient," this is my girlfriend Jodi's saying, she repeated this often in our early years of motherhood. The ample opportunities to serve each other start at the top of our household with Dennis. The last word I received at 4:30 am this morning from him and Elias, who were on hour 16 of their unexpected layover in Copenhagen, was, "I am so thankful you and the little ones don't have to experience this!" Dennis and Elias will join Gabe in Norway for Christmas, but these hours of waiting with countless other weary travelers, brings out Dennis' compassion towards us and others, not frustration. I look forward to the stories I'll hear of wonder and purpose in the rerouting of the journey. God is good to allow us the privilege to serve, it is the fuel for today and the joy with which we anticipate this coming new year.
"March! March! leeft...leeft...