Life Moves Pretty Fast

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.

Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Do you have a routine for every day? I do. Perhaps you read about the joy I take in routine and order last week.

Just like muscle memory, the more we do a certain movement, the more our brain can be freed up from the thinking of how to do this movement, to deeper thoughts or broader thoughts. Routine helps the house know what comes next. It is less work to direct the moving parts and bodies. What is the point of all that freedom?

Sometimes, podcasts.

Other times, togetherness. When my children know what to expect because I am reading off a list for each child under the heading “evening chores” then as they bustle about, I might be able to stop and smile at their antics. It helps me stay cool in an admittedly overwhelming task of directing four noisy kids before dinnertime.

Just when I sigh that sweet sigh of satisfaction common to the Type A-order loving personality, a wrench gets thrown in. Absence, sickness, you name it—things happen, life happens, and order goes out the door.

In this case, I was called away for a few days from house and home. When four days passed, I walked into the door, lugging bags down the hallway, and began to set the house right, back in order. I recover it and reclaim it. I am primarily a homemaker after all. All this happens while the children are still with their grandparents. Completing tasks that would call to me out the corner of my eye in the hour before they come, I am ready for them when they arrive.

Order matters, routine matters, but often, togetherness matters more.

There are the times when we need a better routine, a more predictable rhythm for life. Then there are the times when certain things become so predictable that our minds habituate to their presence and we need to shake it up a little bit. In 1986, Ferris Bueller took a day off from school. When I was in the church youth program, the youth minister talked about the concept of “retreat.” The person retreats, like in battle, from the world we live in day-to-day in order to build up strength, supplies and rest, then go back to the action better equipped.

Hopefully, we can all appreciate our surroundings and the people interjected in those surroundings. Sometimes, however, we need to run away for a bit.

Then, we can walk in the door, get our bearings and see the whole place with a new light, a little more color, a little more clarity. Holding the hand of the child is sweeter. The way another child leans on you rather than stands on his own feet, somehow, fills the heart. Even with a short absence, the saying is true, the heart grows fonder because the heart is reminded of what life was like without these walls, without these little beings, without this small town.

When life feels tiresome, we are not required to run away. A little break can refill an empty soul when the intention is there.

Then the work, the mindfulness, the appreciation, the gratitude must continue though normal life has resumed.

Fewer podcasts, more family movies, more story time on the couch, more hand-holding.

I will be really good at it for a while. Then I grow tired or distracted and I lose my patience, along with my temper, and I forget how good it felt to come home. To remember I call to mind that feeling. There is a memory. Retrieving the memory helps me gain perspective.

This then builds muscle memory. The more we retreat, gain strength, return, recall and grow, the easier it will be in the future to continue the path we want, the one that loves the life well-lived.

Or not. We could just keep going along, day-to-day, never-minding, but then I think, perhaps, a lot will pass us by.


Photo by Brooke Campbell on Unsplash

A Girl and Her King: Into the Desert

The story of A Girl and Her King, joins the young protagonist as she grows in her commitment towards her good king. She is young and he is old. He teaches, her watches over her, protects her. He has taken her to the battlefield, the arena, and now asks her to find her place inside the calm environment of her old home, where challenges abound to test her dedication to him in even in the smallest matters. She does not yet know what form their love will take, if he will one day bring her to live with him in the palace, or request she stay in that quiet home forever. But willing to wait, she receives the lessons he has in store for her.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

He took her to a small palace to rest. Why did he take her, she wondered. So many many possible reasons. What were they? It was a great distance they traveled. Why? Philothea felt separated, relaxed, so able to be quiet, so able to be tired. She was happy. There was no pressure; there were no commitments. Even away from the king and his throne room, the girl wrote him letters.

In this little castle, it was beautiful, with red, purplish skies, clouds streaming across them, old fashioned lamps, two fountains, and four palm trees. How stunningly beautiful. Philothea spent her time inside but wanted to take the time just to be out in this beauty.

She was with children. Philothea did not fear the creatures that followed her and hid in cluttered places. Children frighten them away.

Philothea loved rain. So she loved fountains or any place where water fell in streams, in little drops. She remembered, back inside the walls there were baskets of flowers: too high to see the flowers, but when they were watered it poured out from the bottom, straight down in a line. How beautiful it was.

Philothea considered this weekend in the little castle as she sat beside the fountain. She had become very sensitive to noise, so the king gave her silence. He put her near six children but he gave her silence. He gave her two long conversations and one note filled with love and friendship while she was away and all in one day. They had yet another day to fulfill.

The water fell and the light reflected through the drops. Philothea was gay; she was pensive, resting. It was good to rest, good to be quiet.

Philothea made observations of one companion. What should she do with this information? She was so aware of it while with him. The king kept her in company older than she. She was an adult now, but still very much a child. Philothea saw many eager to marry. She watched it, in love with her king, knowing it would take something mighty to complete her the way he did. But if there was someone he thought was for her, so she would serve him better and one day reach his palace more perfected, he would show her. And they would also have love, a different love, but it would be full and always new.

For once, Philothea rested from these reflections. For once, she did not care. This weekend, she simple loved the king and let tomorrow take care of itself. Once she worried so much. Philothea could now look at her faults and see the good, even in them. It was okay to have faults. It meant she was real. She needed her king terribly. She was always doing little things that were not right. How to fix them? Philothea supposed by allowing the king to teach her, and for her to listen. Clean the inside of the cup first, accept the faults inside her. If she simply swallowed them, kept it inside, what good would it do? She had to expose it, be honest, not hide it, not delight it, but expose it in order to make it clean. This was the way of love and growth in virtue.

Yes, Philothea was very tired. Perhaps, she should go to sleep.


Even though it might have been coincidence, she took the liberty of telling her king that if he gave her a rose, what each color rose meant for her and in effect, what message he would convey to her through them. It was presumptuous of her, she knew that, and she told her very good king that the “marry-me” colors (red) and the “wait-for-me” colors (white) and the “fight-for-me-I’ll-give-you-glory” colors (yellow) might very well be flexible, but when she saw the pink roses in his arms for her, she knew it was for love, a very sweet little treasure from him to her. No, those were non-negotiable. They were for her. Once she walked into the palace, she had to double take and see that he was handing her several dozens of pink roses. Some things were so simple as that.

Of course, her good little friend from the court explained the love of a father to a child who removes the stones from the path before the child could trip on them. Should the child find out all such effort, would he not be even more grateful than the child who trips and is always so gently picked up by his father?

So in all reality, her king had protected her and she was only unaware of it; unaware of the mud she collected from the rocks, unaware that the moments he cared for her. He was carrying her over rocks she would have somehow managed to trip over no matter where they were on the path. She saw only after the battle that he hated the presence of those creatures, frightening and tormenting his beloved, keeping her from him. He hated it so much, but he loved her still and stood by doing all that he would to keep her safe. Until the day he delivered her all together from danger.

Oh the fights that took place while she slept! Little did she know he had appointed a guard to protect her at night. Indeed, those hideous beasts would crawl out from hiding and creep very close to her in bed. How many nights had the guard saved her? She would never know because she had been asleep. Yes, in the future one might tell her and it would only add to her amazement at the King’s concern. So she had always been protected, only now he allowed her to see him move the stones away. She looked at the ground while he lifted her over them.

Beside the fountain the king sat beside Philothea. He gave her little miniature pink roses. She looked up at him. He was wearing his golden crown. He looked very high and majestic. But she knew he was her same little king. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. She felt so far away from him. He reassured her, “you’re not.” As he said it he brushed a lock of hair back behind her ear. “It seems like it, doesn’t it?” Philothea nodded. The love overwhelmed her. She walked around laughing and smiling. Her life was dedicated to him. He filled her. There seemed to be more traffic inside the walls. “You were scared of many things,” he told her.

“I still am,” she told him.

“Yes. Yes, you are. They’re very little though. You’re scared of very little things.”

The king explained to her, “I’ve given my heart to everyone.”

“I know.”

“It doesn’t hurt like you think it will. There’s a different balance to it.”

“I know.” She waited for him to tell her what it was.

He continued, “You’re learning a lot right now and you already know the answers. You know how to grow closer to me and you know how to protect yourself. They are very small walls for you to climb over, not even three feet tall. You’re doing fine. I am your heart. Remember. It is not like it once was. Your heart is mine. See, you don’t even recognize it anymore.” It was true. Every time she looked at her heart all she could see was his.

Her mother once asked her how she knew the king was the one. “When I look at his heart,” she said, “I see mine there with it.” Now, his saying “I am your heart” was true because as she looked at her heart she could see that it was a little drop of water. It had fallen and disappeared into the vast stretch of the ocean. Only his heart remained inside her.