My House of Belonging

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Fires still lit for early mornings and fading light at day’s end. 

Skies filled with a sometimes warm sun riding on still too crisp breezes. 

Spring seems to whimper in a corner as winter refuses to yield. 

But our rhythmic days have returned after the whirlwind tumble of school breaks. 

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the mediative quality of the island, but I find myself so deeply in love with routine these days.

It means everyone is well. It means the wheels are all turning. It means contentment. 

I used to bristle at sameness, ache for difference. For my days to scream like a crow’s caw. 

Now I long for and settle into, celebrate my days that look like every other. 

I cook and study and play and tuck in and wake and do it again and again and again, happily. 

It’s become like a dance. 

The place I come home to. 

This routine of my perfectly simple life. 

A very special friend of mine in NY recently sent me a book of poetry. (Is there a better gift from a friend than a book of poetry?)

In it David Whyte writes, 

This it the bright home

in which I live,

this is where I ask

my friends to come,

this is where I want 

to love all things

it has taken me so long

to learn to love.

 

This is the temple 

of my adult aloneness 

and I belong

to that aloneness

as I belong to my life. 

 

There is no house

like the house of belonging. 

 

 

Staying afloat

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I am often asked how I do it. How I full time mom with a little one still at home, no family around to help, studying late into the night for a degree. How I do it all by myself. How often I hear, “I couldn’t do what you are doing. How are you doing what you are doing?”

Here is my answer…..

I think of this woman Veronica who worked for us in Uganda. She helped me with the children, helped me with the house, helped me in the kitchen. Then every night she went home alone to her son and did it all over again. She played with him, cleaned her home, prepared their dinner. Then woke to come back to me. I think of her. 

I think of my husband dropping food from the sky to refugees who have no home. Masses huddled together waiting for the sky to open and rain down food so they can survive. I think of them. 

I think of time as something so precious and this time as something we will forever hold in our hearts. The time we were all alone on the island, just the three of us. Endless walks on the beach, long board games during rainy days, knowing each other so well we knew when the other would take their next breath. Just the three of us, floating together. I think of how much this time will mean to me, and I hope to them. 

I think about how one day they will be older and friends will become their confidants, how the world will become their playground to explore with others, how they will have their own families and I will cease to be the center of their world with each of these steps. I think about how at this moment they are still so completely mine. 

So yes, some days I am sinking. Many days I have crippling fatigue. But I think of Veronica and refugee camps and closeness and the fleetingness of it all and I wake up every single day saying thank you, thank you, thank you. 

The Island

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It all started with a kitchen. 

While searching and gathering everything I could about Quebec and Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto, learning about cities and schools and neighborhoods my husband sent me a link to a house for sale with a kitchen that stopped everything. 

The house was nothing to look at, but this kitchen, THIS KITCHEN was everything.

The kitchen was in a house on an island. 

“Honey, where are the Gulf Islands?”

“Off Vancouver.” 

And then the rabbit hole opened up….

…I found a writer who wrote an article on the island…

…I searched for her on FB and messaged and she kindly returned….

…She wrote me of the beauty, the quirkiness, the diversity. She wrote of a school in the middle of a forest and would I like the administrator’s number who has 2 adopted boys from Ethiopia…

…and I kept falling and falling and falling. 

The Gulf Islands. 

But it was so far. And so isolated. My husband was worried I would be too alone. I was so scared to be so alone. But something was pulling me there. Something was telling me to go. Something so much stronger than worry or fear. 

We made the plans, found a summer rental for 2 months, and traveled across the world.

My husband settled us into a cabin on a lake, said goodbye, and flew back to Africa.

As I watched him sail away on the ferry my heart stuck in my throat, and I was shaking all over. 

I was on an island, with my 3 year old son and 8 year old daughter, where I did not know a single soul, with 2 months to find a home….

…and build a life.