Monday, June 6, 2011

Sweet Defeat

I turn up the news and change the sheets at 6:30 in the morning because there isn't anyone still snug in beds here. My kids are at youth camp, chaperoned by their pastor-dad, and I don't have to creep around quiet in the dark while a family sleeps this summer morn. A family of five minus four leaves me and the dog oddly alone and unsure of what to do with all the tidy quiet.

I used to enjoy being left behind before children, when Mike gallavented with youth groups, to read, and think, and be still. But that was a decade and a half ago, and although I remember who she was back then, I don't really know her anymore. Distance measured in time made us strangers, surprising strangers.

I washed the dishes before I left for work: a saucepan from steamed milk for my coffee, two spoons, and last night's water glass. They looked lonely in the sink and I couldn't bear it, so I rinsed warm suds, and left the sink a stark empty. Victory.

My goal, every other morning, all day long, as long as I can remember, is to somehow win the battle of mounting dirty dishes in a perpetually cluttered kitchen. Today, there's easy victory before 7:30 am.

The chaos and clutter, my supposed opponent all these years, today surprises me as an old friend, one I miss seeing in my empty sink. I look around at my achieved victory, the kitchen table pristine, the quiet washing machine.

Victory is empty.

I never knew it would be.  I can't wait until my full life returns in stuffed suitcases, sunburns, and revived spirits to fill my home, my washing machine, with the mess that is my life.

I think I prefer defeat, full as it is, over empty victory—any day and every day.

I can only wonder if I will still embrace defeat and stop fighting the age-old battle once they get home. Somehow, I doubt it.

Lord, please don't let me get used to this clean house. Amen.

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