What we learn most deeply is usually what we do not know we are learning at all. How we learn is the best lesson.
Two weeks ago this Sunday a storm from the remnants of Hurricane Lane over Baja California advanced its way through Yuma, gathered forces climbing the Chiricahuas and slammed into our neighborhood at 40 miles an hour.
While it careened through the afternoon I was undertaking shopping chores at the nearby Fry's. I'd already spent a long time at full stop trying to figure out if the Pepsi at 3-twelve packs for ten dollars was cheaper than a six-pack of Coca~Cola at ninety nine cents. Flustered and fuming at their idiotic corporate marketing strategy I decided to opt for the brand with the least amount on the shelf, reasoning hopefully that the shoppers before me had done the math.
Through the windshield of the car black thick clouds hung, the thunderstorm now crashed through mid town as I drove home. It had already hit here knocking out traffic lights and drowning streets. As we unloaded Number Two Son pointed out a double rainbow and wondered about how rare that was.
Rare enough for us to watch it together!
I declare a break, sensing that he's been too long lost in the shuffle of our busy family life. I dug out hard ice cream and we perched almost matching feet up on the bumper of the car enjoying our Death by Chocolate and double rainbows. He tells me he's doing really great in school, thinking he'll be getting all A's for the first quarter report card. I ask him ... why so suddenly? did he quit answering the phone, any fourteen-year-old I ever heard of made regular mad dives when the phone rang.
It's because of The Voice Problem, he states matter-of-fact.
This of course causes me to convulse in hysterics because this is true! Numerous times I had come from the back of the house to ask Number One Son if Ryan or Jed were over only to mistakenly discover the deep voice was that of Number Two Son talking.
Smirking merrily, How exactly do you define The Voice Problem?
With defensive precision he replies, When I answer the phone my voice disappears.
I drop the subject for the moment because he's become so serious and soon a lull occurs.
Now that you're a man, I awkwardly acknowledge, , it's still okay for you to be a boy once in a while.
I glance for a reaction out of the corner of my eye his shoulders let go of some kind of burden and the furrows on his forehead relax, he wipes ice cream away with the back of his hand and I imagine he's hiding that shy smile.
A moment of time can be a thing and this was the first of three in this day.
Early for Taize the pastor silently taps the scripture reading and I know she wants me to read it for the service. It's the one in John where Thomas tells his friends he refuses to believe Jesus has risen from the dead unless he sees the wounds from the nails and places his hand in his side. I am to read about lack of faith.
Problems have been clotting my life like wads of chewing gum for two weeks dividing me up in a dozen tangled ways.
After church reddened with irritation, I stalked off my daily walk disgusted now that I had lost the comfort and structure of my former route. On the way we pass a small wash. The sun bakes the earth shut in the desert and rain is shed through washes and into dry riverbeds, sometimes even great walls of water flood down from storms in the surrounding mountains and we are warned to stay out of those areas. But what Retriever worth their salt wouldn't love a romp in a rare desert stream...even though Kiki's a dog I smugly instruct myself she can still be a puppy once in a while. So persuaded we backtrack to the wash. Racing back and forth with feathered tail held high like a raised flag she celebrates by sploshing through flying water, her tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. Lighting still flickers but silently now and thinking for a moment, I consider letting her off leash -- but I'm afraid she'll bound for home and another dog will show up without me setting off alarms in the household, besides I'm chancing it enough as it is. Shrugging and back to wearing old sneakers I splash into the rivulet so she can have a go at sniffing the rainy smells.
Red florets of a bougainvillea ride by on their green leaves and I fish it out. Up close imperfections show in the amazingly brilliant red. It feels delicate and tissuelike with near perfect circles chewed away by some larva. Petals are rudely torn perhaps when fierce winds tore and flung the small branch to the ground. Five seems right, so I pluck five rouge colored flowers and release them downstream. The warm water surprises my hands they were expecting coldness from mountain streams. I watch the florets go down under the bridge and imagine where they will go -- to the Cañada Del Oro (golden way?) wash and run off into the Sant Cruz River (the cross?)
Here begins the significance of physics, events set close enough together to exert a force. Nestled underwater less than three feet away a burgundy stone coalesced. How meticulously it was formed from the red sandstones of my dreams. The thing that looked like plain desert sand sat clear and familiar in the water. Sometimes these stones appear as canyons around me while I'm hiking. A friendly stranger stops me to show me a shrine she's created from her daughter's wedding gifts.
...or they may be boulders Dad and I climb together, he goes on ahead to wait while I remain senseless only to find a different way out. An Ebenezer stone, a stone of help? Scooped up and washed clean I set it on the bank just so to mark a spot where I'm sure to see it on my walks.
That wash is full of rocks!
I thought she was teasing me, a neighbor's daughter draped over the fence
and I blushed at myself wondering how long she had watched.
Look!, Corrine pointed across the way, the wind has blown over their brand new fence!
I see this and turn to remark--only in the middle of what I have to observe--she smiles suddenly into the sky. The storm is well past, but lingers grumbling on to the east. The moon almost full is up and I assume it's this she grins happily at. We talk a while of the moon and how curious that it is that it can be shining in the sky before the sun has had a chance to go down. Another quick smile is sent skyward and remind myself that the moon being up during the day is one of those questions that I've always meant look up.
Corrine's mother would take me, when I felt well enough, to the nearby Baptist church. Pastor Roger says a terrific sermon and the music just so righteously rocks, I have to tell myself
'no dancin' in the aisles, it's a Baptist church!'
It always lifts my spirits to go with their family.
Worried once that I may be going home to die for sure this time she would ask,
Have you been baptized?
Well, yes, just a little though, I sprinkle imaginary water jokingly, I'm a Methodist!
All this thinking going on and Corrine is now sending up more frequent and dazzling smiles!
Or her mother would asked me wanting reassurance, Have you been saved?
Conversion for me has always seemed to be a slow thoughtful process. For her salvation is instantaneous, I envy her and those who've had this sudden transformation at times and wonder if it will ever happen to me.
Look...another sure smile crossed the seven year old's face.
The moon! I think that metric ton mass in the sky that grabs women’s blood, heaves oceans toward it and makes believe for children about the Man in the Moon and Green Cheese...
What are you smiling at Corrine? finally overcome with curiosity.
She wrinkles her nose, yanks the damp hair stuck to her neck eager to let me in on her secret smiling club.
God's taking pictures of me! she whisperspits in my ear.
goes the distant lightening.
Well oh my! astounded at her winsomeness, God must think you're a beautiful person!.....would you mind if He gets a picture with you and me together?
Yea! Yea! her head bobbles up and down all excited. I'm joining her. Kiki with her wet doggie smile and two little girls posed smartly together under the nearly full moon with the double rainbowed sky.
The sun is setting quickly now and it's time to head home. Six soggy feet squishing through the door I blurt out to my husband,Guess who's vacationing in town today ?!?!
Who? he murmurs from behind the paper.
God! twinkles the little girl inside.
A moment of time --a moment of faith-- can be a thing too, of course and so it can also lasso significance together. A moment of time can be an unpredictable voice, stones of help in dreams, and smiles saved away in pictures of memory.