Thorny blessings

Back from the sea. We hauled a few pounds of white beach sand back with us in the bombed out mini-van. Along with about a pound of sugar of various colors strewn about from discarded Pixie Stix and Fun Dips. A brief 24 hour drive brought us all the way home from the ocean to the cool July in the Midwest.

On the very last day before we left for vacation, I sewed three travel pillows, one for each girl. I had seen them on display at a ritzy shop for $30 apiece - fleece, filled with buckwheat..."naturally cool". I made a few alterations in design, most notably doing away with the fleece (too hot!) and replacing it with quilter's cotton. That first day in the car, the girls were so excited to use them: Katy's yellow with dachshunds, Rosy's a heathered pink, Amy's covered in strawberries. A few minutes into the nap attempt, they started to complain that the pillows were uncomfortable. In true traveling mother form, I insisted they quit complaining and go to sleep. Not another peep issued forth from the back end, although there were about twenty more minutes of discontented rustling.

Next day, I decided to use one of the discarded pillows. So comfortable and cool when I draped it around my neck! Then I leaned back against the seat back. And was rewarded with a circlet of intense, sharp pain - were there burrs in this pillow? I threw it off my neck to inspect it. My design improvements were to blame: the thin quilters cotton didn't cushion the sharp points of the buckwheat barbs! Those kids weren't kidding...these pillows were like a pillow of thorns! I laughed quietly to myself, after apologizing profusely for forcing them to use the pillows the day before. "You think life is bad now? Here, I'll give you something to complain about - have a travel pillow!"
How often that happens, in both a literal and proverbial sense: something meant to bless us becomes a thorn in our side. Vacation/residency week was sort of like that, for me, at least. Work hard so I could play hard. Hit the pillow incrementally more exhausted each day. The power of the sun, the sand whipping in the wind, the salt stinging, the tug and crash of the waves against legs unused to that force...all added up to an inexaustible storehouse of memories deep within, and fatigue of body, mind and soul as well. I feel a surge forward in my school work, a renewed sense of focus. I enjoyed the freedom I've gained through this whole cancer journey, this truer and deeper sense of the value of the small moments of joy: running headlong through waves with my girls, doing jumping jacks in the grass at various restaurants and gas stations across the country, catching fire flies in a Coke bottle for the ride home. Unaware of uncomfortable stares from other, more grounded and sedate adults. Cancer has freed me from that sedate way of adult living, and from the ungainly adolescence of my longing to be free of cultural and peer restraints.

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1-7)