I just slipped home from spending the night at the home of my slightly over-whelmed daughter. She recently gave birth to her third baby-- a dark-haired, dark-eyed charmer named Wesley, who arrived slightly three years after the the births of his two "older" siblings, thus the reason she is slightly overwhelmed. Some people cast troubled glances at her as if she didn't understand how this phenomenon occurred. She knows. She just has a precarious health issue, and God knew her family should come quickly while she was enjoying great health.
So between helping out with the excitement Wesley's arrival created in his house, and in order to attend the birth and blessing of another grandchild--sweet baby Chase--in Utah, plus the added needs of my mom, something had to give this spring, and that something was the LDStorymakres' writing conference in Provo. Despite my many blessings, and my extreme joy, I do confess to a bit of withdrawal pain. I love this conference, and I am mentioning it here because anyone who loves to write and who wants to improve their writing, should consider going next year. Here is a link to the web site where all the info on this year, and next year's conference will eventually be posted. Visit often and read all the successes this LDS writing group is having in their efforts to flood the earth with high-quality but clean reads. To my friends attending conference this week. I miss you, and I hope you have a blast.
We're enjoying a rare experience out here in Maryland--Spring! We generally slip and skid from an icy winter through a brief, week-long mild patch of weather and begin the long slog through a sweltering, humid summer. But not so this year. It's been lovely, chilly, wet, and extremely green. Even this Portuguese/British/ German/American lady is feeling a little Irish.
As I was driving home this early morning, I fell behind a big yellow school bus. Normally, the constant stops and starts, and the delays this driving position creates would make me a bit crazy, but not so today. I was fresh from having the scent of baby's breath on my neck, and the warm feel of a toddler-sleeping companion still cozied my heart, so I watched the beautiful children standing with their parents along the narrow country road, enjoying their anticipation as the bus pulled up, preparing to carry them off to another day's learning adventure.
I watched the parents too. I'm sure many of them have their own concerns over money, or jobs, or a myriad of other worries, but in this moment, each of them hovered protectively by their children, offering a last kiss or hug or squeeze as they sent them off. They maintained their supportive vigil until the bus moved away, adding a final wave before leaving their posts to pull the morning paper out, or before retrieving the mail from the box. I'm sure the children looked back to catch a final glimpse of their protector, their beloved mom or dad.
It filled me with hope. I know it's a small thing, but as long as families are out there in the line, protecting their children, investing in the future, I feel a sense of goodness about the world.
It's how I feel each time I go to my favorite municipal park and see families holding hands and swinging arms as they walk to the playground or circumnavigate the pond to feed the ducks and fish. I smile as I see fathers pull up for a quick lunch-time picnic with their wives and kids before heading back to the office. I can't explain the joy it gives me except to describe it as hope. It's normal. It's traditional. It's beautiful.
As a writer, I try to catch the details of life, and then I attempt to recreate them in stories. I love the details of emotion, the signs of our emotional climate. Today I saw hope.
I hope to soon return to the work of writing. I still have a few more days or maybe weeks of family business to align, but I feel good about the break I've taken, and about the relationships I've strengthened during this pause. But when I do write, whatever it is, I want the end story to be about hope. It was a conscious decision I came to a few months back. It's the right one for me. Today, it was reconfirmed.
“A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” -Woodrow Wilson