It's in my seven year old coming into my room early on a Sunday morning to tell me she does not feel good and she may not be able to go to school tomorrow, she's pretty sure.
It's in her spit-filled speech and how proud I am that she kept her new blue sparkly retainer in her mouth all night long.
It's in the weight of my dog on my chest as I lay under my down comforter. “Weight” might not be the exact right word for her seven pound terrier body, but the warm rise and fall of her breath and the way she nestles in around herself is everything that makes a morning peaceful.
It's in the sound of my six-year-old pulling open the pantry, grabbing the Honey Nut Cheerios box, opening the drawer with the bowls, pouring the milk. It's when I get out of bed and find him sitting in his Very Hungry Caterpillar pajamas at the dining table reading the cereal box like I used to do when I was little and still ate cereal for breakfast.
It's in my older two sons spending the night at a friend's house and my husband heading to the mountains at 5 am to snowboard which leaves me time and space in vast uncommon dimensions.
I light a candle. I sit cross-legged in my chair by the fire and read two paragraphs of Pema Chodron. I watch the light from the window go from cold blue to sunrise warm.
It's having the time to help my six-year-old get dressed, to notice his knees and his skinny legs, these legs that took shape inside of me, so very on the outside of me now, so very his own. He is my final baby, the only one I can still pick up and hold: his body, koala-like, wrapped around me in closeness.
It's in my daughter standing in her underwear in the kitchen kicking an almost deflated star-shaped balloon.
It's in my sore throat, so sore I don't want to yawn or swallow or, God forbid, yell or cry because the opening and the stretching hurts.
It's in me, making breakfast sausage and warming up fully cooked bacon from a box (who knew that was a thing), cursing the spattering grease because I hate cleaning the stove almost as much as I hate mopping wood floors.
It's in me, yelling at my six-year-old to open back up his bedroom door because we don't slam doors in this house and you better stop pouting because now we're all fighting and why can't we just be grateful and my realization that I'm talking to myself, not him. I'm talking to the me who makes the bacon and curses the bacon in the same breath. The me who pouts while I shove the socks right side out and throw them in the washing machine, slamming the lid and muttering "They should be doing their own laundry."
There is this me, and there is a quieter, deeper me, the one who says gently, "Go ask them to do the laundry if that's what you need, Trinity. Or if not, do the laundry as offering, not for your kids to force their gratitude but because the laundry is dirty and it needs to be clean.”
This quieter me says, "Smell the bacon." This deeper me says, "Eat the sausage."
This me says, "Receive the hug your daughter gives you in the kitchen when you start pouting that no one is grateful and everyone is fighting."
It's in me feeling my daughter's arms wrapped around my waist. It's in me letting down into the middle of all that makes a morning a morning.
It's me calling grease spatters good. It's me calling pouting good because, God bless, it's honest. It's me calling yelling good because now I know how I really feel. It's me calling myself good because this is the plain truth of it. It's me calling the bacon good because well, bacon is good.
It's in my son refusing to put on a coat or a hat even though the day is cold and we have to go pick up the boys from sleepovers now. It's in him wanting a ski mask, only a ski mask. "You're a ninja!" I say, and he spider crawls across the floor backwards in his ninja mask. For once, instead of, "Hurry up, your sister is in the car waiting. We have to go! We are going to be late!" I say, "Show me your ninja moves! Show me those moves!" I watch his little boy body jump down each front step and skid across the driveway. "Slide, ninja, slide!" I open the van door. "Climb, ninja, climb! Jump, ninja, jump!"
It's in the drive up above the town, around the reservoir, and into Horsetooth Mountain. It's in the snow on the foothills, crystallized on branches, blanketed across red rocks, sifting across the road like fine flour.
It's in Anne Lamott speaking on a podcast about radical self-care. She talks about her teachers: Pippi Longstocking, Beezus and Ramona, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Virginia Woolf.
It's in this memory that rises to the surface: fifteen-year-old me, away from home for the first time. Three weeks at Governor's School in Richmond, Virginia, surrounded by artists and singers, swing dancers and fencing experts, theatre people and musicians. My roommate played Ani Difranco in our dorm room and everything changed. I had teachers. Ani, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Bjork, my first village elders.
It's another memory of joining the Speech and Debate team in high school, performing Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy." You do not do. You do not do anymore, black shoe in which I have lived like a foot for thirty years, poor and white. Twenty-two years later, I can still recite the first lines from memory.
It's in the first time I read Anne Lamott in my late twenties. I cried over and over, felt my heart turn from stone back to flesh, felt my spirit come home to my body. She describes the feeling like being in Morocco, like being in some foreign country and hearing an English language station. It was like that. I'm not so alone. I'm not the only one who thinks this way. There are words for it. Someone is saying them.
The snow. The quiet. The teachers. My children. The lit candle. The cereal box. Knobby knees and my little dog's warm swollen belly.
It's when we show up at church and everyone is singing, "When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother. I see my sister. I see my mother. I see my father." I stand in the back, and I look at people like I am looking at myself. I meet eyes, and I think, I am you, and you are me. We are one.
There is no separation.
Ask the children. Ask the dogs. Ask the snow-covered trees and the man in the oversized trench coat counting pennies at a table before church starts, stacking them in tiny piles of ten.
I ask him what he's doing. He says he's seeing how much he has. For his tip jar.
"For what?" I ask.
"I busk at The Piano," he says.
I'm thinking I don't know of a restaurant in town called The Piano.
I ask him, "Where's that?"
He says, "There's pianos all over town."
I get it.
"Did you study piano?" I ask.
"I took 2 classes in high school," he says.
"Wow," I say, "Do you play by ear? What do you love to play?"
"80's rock," he grins. "I'm listening to Aerosmith right now. Angel is my new song. I love to play Guns N' Roses. I'm teaching myself how to read music and play by ear.”
"Will you play today?" I ask.
I'm thinking of the 20 degree temperatures.
"Yes," he says.
"Do you have fingerless gloves?"
"I can only find one. But I don't wear them much anyway. One time when it was really cold, there was this part in a song I couldn't ever get, but I made my fingers do it in the cold, and now I can play it. Mind over matter." He grins.
"I'm Trinity," I say.
"I'm Dylan." We meet eyes.
I am you and you are me. We are one.
He shakes my hand. He goes back to counting.
I read once that we imitate the God we believe in.
This man, I think, believes in a piano-playing God. A God who makes music on the coldest days.
I believe in the God who celebrates the sausage and the bacon, the dishes and the laundry, the yelling and the hugging, the swirling snow and the collected memories.
I believe in the God who does not discriminate between holy and human, who says it's one and the same.
I believe in the God who calls it all delight.