Monday, September 17, 2018

Grace at the Lake

I didn't want to go.
In fact, if I could have reverted to my small child self...I might have had a tantrum and just refused to move.

Another week-end.
Another soccer tournament.

I am over it.

I should know better.

I got into the car on a Friday night and began a three hour trek into the mountains.

My 12 year old grabbed the cell phone and made a comment about how I needed a better phone.


She complained about the car we were in.
She didn't like my music.

I didn't like her vibe.

As I sat in traffic, I fumed.
I couldn't take one more millisecond of the ingratitude.

I lost it.

Like a surveyor, I reminded her of the topographical lines of her life...the deepest blessings coming first...

Did you notice that you're healthy?
That I'm healthy?
That we have a car to drive?
That we have gas in the car?
We have the amazing ability to spend a week-end playing soccer?
You have a mom who is willing to devote a week-end to soccer?
That we are together when so many moms and daughters don't get that chance?

As I assailed her with her blessings...
the boomerang effect took place.

Hey, Beth, are you listening to yourself?

Stop your complaining and start noticing.

As we meandered at dusk through the mountains, the reset button was pushed.

We stopped for dinner and we both took a deep breath...
we inhaled the scent of the pines...
it was going to be okay.

We had a soccer game at a high school where giant pines surround the field.
I tripped over a giant root and noticed extra large pine cones...
the sky was a shade of blue that made me consider paint colors:
True Blue

After some weeks of fires and smoke near me, the color of the sky was a long lost friend.

We had a break and some time until the next game.
Some moms had rented a cabin together so they invited the team to hang out there.

We walked into a welcome where the team cheered when Caroline came in.

She had been injured in the game - a serious bonk to the head - and her team, in that moment,  let her know that she mattered.

I could see her body relax...comfortably finding a spot at the big table to paint a few paper flowers.
Parents were tracing flowers, cutting flowers, making paint and paintbrushes available to anyone -
it was an anthill of effort.

The flowers were for our coach, who had lost his mother during the week.
The hand-painted flowers would be a perpetual bouquet for Coach Mike...
a way for 12 year old girls to say:
We see you going through this hard thing...we are so sorry...we are sending love and friendship.

I was so humbled watching these mothers (and fathers) showing their daughters how to love someone through something hard.

I picked up a tracer and a pencil and swallowed hard.

These parents were strangers to me...
but they were mothering my daughter...
right in front of my eyes.

Their love was better than any ice pack.

She was given the gift of thinking of someone else...
the gift of doing good with paper and paint.

Together, we were reminded that it is so often the simplest acts of kindness that last.

After another soccer game, we had the grim consideration of dinner for 40.
How would that work?
What restaurant would serve us?

Instead, another group of moms opened up their cabin...and told us all to bring a little something.

Something turned into quite the banquet.
Moms know how to feed their people.

The girls devoured bowls of pasta, while the adults ate tasty tidbits and watched with wonder more flowers being painted...the designs getting more intricate and beautiful with each effort.

The cabin was at the edge of Lake Tahoe and so the team wandered down to the lake...the girls swam and the sun did its downward dance...gilding the sky...reminding us that this ordinary holiness...this beauty of light...tattoos our world every day for the briefest of moments.

Against the backdrop of waves and feet buried in sand and a chill in the air and a purplish dusk, a group of moms talked about family and the challenges that go with helping our girls grow up...we talked writing and teaching blanketing over the real messages of care and love.
One mom echoed what we all were feeling:
how grateful she was that her daughter was surrounded by these moms (and dads)
...she called it a clan...
a tribe...
an echo from the times when grandmothers and aunties and cousins and others watched over the little ones and made sure it was all as it should be.

In that last little breath of light before the dark, my heart was full.

She was exactly right.

This team has traversed the territory of strangers on the sidelines and moved to a higher plane:
 a community that cares.

It was seemingly effortless...but it wasn't.

It took one mom to consider the coach and find a way for 12 year olds to deal with grief.
It took another mom to open her cabin.
It took moms and dads to buy food and take the time to make food and create 
a space that welcomed everyone.
It took coaches who had loosened their control on the team for something organic to grow.
It took problem solvers to figure out seating and clean up and all sorts of other glitches.

It took effort.

There, at Lake Tahoe in the middle of a soccer tournament, grace was in abundance.

I didn't have a cabin to offer...
I brought very little food...
I didn't bring art supplies or any ideas.

I pretty much was on the sidelines just watching the miracle unfold.
I guess I'll be the recorder.

When's the next tournament?