Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lemon Pledge

My three year old daughter and I were silently enjoying the scenery as we traveled along a country road en route to her preschool.

"Mommy!" Her commanding voice drew me away from my mental review of the day's errands.

"Yes, honey?"

"Are we doing the lemon?"

My mind frantically sifted through memories of the last several days, looking for something--anything--to which she might be referring. I drew a complete and utter blank so asked her, "What lemon, sweetie?"

"The speed lemon, Mama!" she replied in a slightly exasperated tone before generously adding, "You know, how fast we are going in the car".

"Ah, the speed limit! Yes, we are doing the speed limit. Do you see that white sign on the side of the road? It says '40'. Now look at my speedometer here. Do you see the red line? It is pointing to 40, too. When the numbers match, that means I am doing the speed limit."

"Oh, OK." My daughter sighed in relief, then beamed. "Good job, Mama! But that white sign says 'Speed Limit 40', not just '40'."

I shook my head in amazement. "So it does", I said. When did she learn to read the words on that sign? And when did she learn about the speed limit? I hadn't taught her, and my husband later confirmed that he hadn't, either.

We arrived at preschool and I helped her out of the car. She pointed excitedly and shouted, "Ooh, look, Mommy, an American flag!" She stood straight and tall, placed her right hand over her heart, and began to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I stood quietly at her side, listening in growing wonder as she perfectly articulated the entire Pledge, including the word 'indivisible'.

When she was finished, I praised her and noted that 'indivisible' was a big word. She nodded sagely. "I can say 'commodity' and that's a big word too, Mama. But you forgot to put your right hand over your heart. Maybe you better come inside to circle time so Miss Mandy can show you the right way to do it."

I scooped her up into my arms and, placing my cheek against hers, gave her the biggest bear hug I could muster. Smiling, I carried her inside.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good Morning, Sunshine!

At our house, the alarm clock goes off early in the morning: between 4:45 and 5:15. Although my loving husband wants me to get my rest and tiptoes around trying not to wake me, I like to try and rise with him so that I can start his day with a hug and a kiss, and pour him a hot cup of coffee for the drive into work.

Once he is on his way, I open the doors leading onto the deck and sit motionless in the cool darkness.

The bullfrog chorus at the pond rings out rhythmically until the first hint of dawn, when the croaking grows sleepy and irregular and is joined by the soft, tentative chirping of the early songbirds. As the sky goes from a dark inky gray to lavender to pink, the songbird divertimento crescendos, peaking as the rays of the sun break over the treetops. They are joined by the twittering of red-tailed wrens and house martins, and the oaks and maples come alive with the motion of their feathered residents.

Mating pairs swoop and soar, diving low at my feet before chasing one another in upward spirals around tree trunks; curious young birds alight next to me and wonder at what manner of creature I am, luxuriating in the morning breeze.

The distinctive chirping of the cardinals is followed by the raucous bickering of the jays, and the tranquil spell is broken. I soak in the warmth of the sun for a few minutes more and, looking to heaven, give thanks for this beautiful gift to the world that is new every morning, bright as the dawn and just as fleeting: life.

No wonder the ancient sages called this transition from darkness to light the Ambrosial Hours! They are truly nectar to my soul, poured out afresh every morning like the dew drops that quench the green world around me.

It is altogether too easy to lose this sense of peace as I go through the rest of the day with its demands and flurries of activity, but then I spy banks of yellow coreopsis by the roadside--little treasures scattered about by the Creator. They call this creation back to relationship, peace, stillness and a sense of interconnectedness by the nodding of their flowered heads: "Good morning, sunshine!" Whether it is morning, noon or late in the afternoon, I smile back and thank them for reminding me.