Sunday, July 8, 2018

Do you know what halcyon means?

Halcyon Days.

I read a book once, when my big kids were very little, where the narrator used that term to describe the season where her children were young, running around her backyard. I remember thinking I knew what she was saying but had never heard the term before so I looked it up.

According to my search, halcyon, in its adjective form means:  Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.

That word has echoed in my thoughts for years -- are THESE the halcyon days? Oh no wait, THESE must be the halcyon days.

The truth is with three children all the same age, then an added fourth -- peaceful was never an adjective that popped into any one's head to describe us.

Further, I have been chasing idyllic my entire life -- picturesque and blissful! I remember this house in the neighborhood between my mother's work and my great-aunt's home (those were my exploration boundaries as a child.) that I rode my bicycle by daily. It had a cute little front porch. and the windows had quaint little shutters. And the sweetest white picket fence. In the spring, daffodils would fill the flower beds and in the fall, the leaves on the tree just inside the fence would rain down on me as I drove past imagining the sweet little life of the family that lived within the walls. I was convinced they were living my idyll. I wondered how I would ever convince them to sell me that home as soon as I grew up.

Of course, life would take me far from my bicycle boundaries before I could buy a home. And my family of six would have been hard-pressed to fit into that sweet little house from day one. But the dreams of a little girl form the idyll of the big girl, right? And so I have sought porches, shutters, and picket fences for a long long time.

But happy? Oh we have had happy! Three bouncing babies with the sweetest smiles and a capacity to love that far exceeded their little bitty size brought more happy than I could ever imagine. And then when eight years later, the cutest little redhead was born to us, I thought my heart might burst with happy.

Happy has never been in short supply in our house. Of course, neither has pain, or heartache, or sadness. Over the years, I have longed to minister to other mothers with premature babies. And yet, I am aware that my family's road from prematurity is not idyllic, it isn't dream.

And so part of me was guarded when the triplets were young about reaching out. But as my amazing children have grown, I have become bolder -- knowing without a doubt that my trio can offer hope to those moms. Because hope and happy are only possible when you have been through the pain, the heartache, the sadness.

Perhaps you know that I just had a big birthday. Big. Huge. I turned 50. We have celebrated for almost two months and embraced and praised God for the years. But as the celebrations wind down, I can't help but once again wonder about the halcyon days. With one foot in one state and one in another as we continue the long distance commute for another school year, I feel overwhelmed by hard good-byes, exciting hellos, and the exhaustion of packing, unpacking, and making a home. I wonder about finding the idyllic. And then reprimand myself that happy and peaceful beat idyllic all day long. (And then I continue only searching for homes with a front porch -- some things are just hard to change.) 

I mean maybe halcyon days are beyond me. And on woeful days, I think yeah, maybe. But I am a girl who rather hates dwelling in the woeful. And so in my optimistic moments, I rather think we are on a grand adventure with more idyllic days ahead, more friends to gather, more memories to share, more porches to rock on.

But still. This summer I feel burdened that far too often we are submerging ourselves into a social media-minefield of what appears to be everyone else's halcyon days. We post the photo that captures the best of our best. We post the kitchen without any dirty dishes and a smiling family. We don't post the challenges of eating for our son. The smiling birthday party shots don't tell you that the air conditioner malfunctioned moments before the guests began to arrive. The vacation shots that show our smiling family in front of a picturesque fountain in a delightful piazza in Rome does not tell you the story of the angst of navigating the wheelchairs into oncoming traffic because the sidewalks were not accessible.

Far too many of my friends are finding pain in looking at only the idyllic right now. Far too many are hurting and fighting for their very lives while we fight for the picture-perfect dream. And so I desperately want us to keep sharing -- oh, you know that photos are my love language -- but I also want us to be more real with each other, to share the hard and the struggles, to remember that a good friend celebrates with us when we celebrate but also cries with us when we cry.

I am going to keep searching for my front porch -- but I promise to be real there. Ya'll will come rock with me? Won't you?

Carol - The Blessings Counter