Finding Joy and Purpose
Written Winter of 2004
I’m sitting here in first period Language Arts class at Indian Crest Junior High School. All around me there are ninth grade students talking, trying to practice reading a Dr. Seuss book for their upcoming elementary school visit. They seem glad to not have to concentrate on vocabulary or Conrad Richter’s Light in the Forest.
All day long I’m around boisterous kids. When I arrive home, my own children clamor for my attention during the evening news, competing with each other for assistance on their homework. Sometimes I long for quiet.
But yesterday, I had my mother over to our house for supper. She didn’t seem to notice two of my children firing questions, hopping on her lap, and pleading with her to choose which name, Heather or Trish, should belong to an unnamed doll. Her patience never wavered. She even seemed to enjoy it.
Mom later thanked me repeatedly for having her over for dinner. She said it felt “good to eat with a family.” Since my dad died in July, my mom has missed eating with someone. But then, my dad’s loud, commanding, and entertaining voice would be easy to miss. In the past few months, she has continued to tell us, “Merrill never gave me the silent treatment!” I can clearly see that my dad’s absence has left a quiet, gaping hole in my mother’s life.
She made me realize as we grasped hands for a dinner prayer that quiet is nice, but having an active, vibrant family is priceless. My mom helped me see myself in 30* years, longing for the days of noise and chaos, dirty feet and slobbery kisses, words of anger and words of love. It’s at times like these that I agree with Emily Webb from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town when she says, “Does any human being ever realize life while they live it?”
My prayer is that God will help you and me to find joy and purpose in this new year, no matter what our passage in life.–BBM
*Editorial note: It took a lot less than 30 years to miss the noise and clamor of raising a family. Try 7 or 8 years…