shouting hallelujah

My dog has a people name and my baby has a hobbit name.

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Above are some of the nursing portraits I’ve snapped in recent months, fiddling around with my iPhone, nothing much to do, while Pip grabs a snack or passes out on me.

And now I’m thinking I’ve snapped my last nursing portrait of Pippin. It happened fast — the weather got nice and my parents arrived for a week, providing a welcome distraction. Suddenly Pip wasn’t asking to nurse as often anymore, and it wasn’t very hard to satisfy him instead with another push around the yard in his truck or a fistful of blueberries. We’re down to three feedings during the day now, and a couple pesky ones at night. For Captain Never Wean, this is a big, big shift.

I’ve had other moms tell me they felt conflicted about weaning, that it feels bittersweet. Not me! I’m ready to wear whatever dress I want! I’m ready to give up nursing pads! I’m ready to get through a staff meeting without an insistent toddler poking me suggestively, shout-whispering, “This! This!” I’ll make it to 18 months, no sweat, and anyway, I hope this isn’t the last of my nursing journey. Someday, I pray, I’ll be doing it all over again with some other kid.

But it’s the end of my nursing journey with Pip, or getting there, anyway. And you know what? It is a little bittersweet after all. On Easter morning, I so easily could have nursed him down for a nap at his aunt’s and uncle’s, like I’ve done on other still mornings. But instead, I took him to a playground, then walked him around the neighborhood in his stroller till he fell asleep. I took in all the daffodils as my feet ached in my boots, walked past a man selling tulips half a dozen times as I tried not to get lost. Ahead of me, Pip faced forward, and napped, and didn’t miss the nursing.

It was lovely, but different. And looking at this sweet nursing face, I know, after all, that I’ll miss it.

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

John Updike, “Seven Stanzas at Easter” [via]
And to all you children out there with Easter bunnies
I would like to say this:
If they are chocolate, eat them.
If they are living, tuck them in your shirt.
There’s always unseasonable weather.
Hose down the hutches.
For a special treat
to brighten up their winter
offer the early shoots of the wild American orchid,
the lady’s-tresses,
in either of three varieties:
the slender, the hooded, or the nodding.
Annie Dillard, “Feast Days: Thanksgiving - Christmas”

So, friends, every day do something 
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor. 
Love someone who does not deserve it. 

[…]

Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction. 
Practice resurrection.

— Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” (read it all here)

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
T.S. Eliot, “East Coker” (excerpt)

…your sister accusing you of having a love bite on your shoulder when it is, in fact, actually a baby bite from a teething and overtired toddler.

I appreciated this. I think it speaks a bit to the temptation to make your job title your identity, and that’s a recipe for trouble. While it’s definitely worthwhile to try to find meaningful work — or, perhaps more precisely, meaning in your work — it can’t be the source of your self-worth and happiness. We can use our job to love God and other people, and that’s probably about it.

One thing I’ve loved about the seclusion of bedtime nursing is getting a peek at the bookshelves of family, friends and even acquaintances while I sit in the half light with my baby. It’s such an intimate #sight and insight into another person. made with #picplaypost app #holylens

And that is how I ended up in the private wing of the monastery this afternoon.

This week my parents came to the difficult decision that it was time to put one of our childhood cats down. 

We had had Clyde (pictured) since I was in fifth grade, so he’s been a permanent fixture at my parents’ house almost as long as they’ve been in that house, and a constant beyond just about anything else that comes to mind. 

His passing makes me think of how we measure out our lives in pets — at least if we are as relentlessly responsible toward them as my parents are. When Mom and Dad were first married, they got themselves a kitten who they named after Spock’s cat, and whose reign extended from their newlywed days until I was ten. Then Clyde and KatNipp, who my sister and I picked out in elementary school, have seen things we scarcely could have imagined when they were kittens: high school hijinks and college visits, my wedding and my baby. 

If we are good to Bonnie, she might make it until Pip’s about ten, another far off, indistinct future in the life of a family. Maybe then we will get another dog, and that one will see us through the rest of Pip’s childhood, greeting him creakily on visits home from college. It’s unimaginable. 

Our life together, measured out in the lives of our pets, really isn’t all that long.

This week my parents came to the difficult decision that it was time to put one of our childhood cats down.

We had had Clyde (pictured) since I was in fifth grade, so he’s been a permanent fixture at my parents’ house almost as long as they’ve been in that house, and a constant beyond just about anything else that comes to mind.

His passing makes me think of how we measure out our lives in pets — at least if we are as relentlessly responsible toward them as my parents are. When Mom and Dad were first married, they got themselves a kitten who they named after Spock’s cat, and whose reign extended from their newlywed days until I was ten. Then Clyde and KatNipp, who my sister and I picked out in elementary school, have seen things we scarcely could have imagined when they were kittens: high school hijinks and college visits, my wedding and my baby.

If we are good to Bonnie, she might make it until Pip’s about ten, another far off, indistinct future in the life of a family. Maybe then we will get another dog, and that one will see us through the rest of Pip’s childhood, greeting him creakily on visits home from college. It’s unimaginable.

Our life together, measured out in the lives of our pets, really isn’t all that long.