Monday, April 30, 2007

Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage

Madeleine L'Engle has been one of my favorite authors since I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was about nine or ten. Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage is poignant, moving, and profound. The memoir time-travels between past and present: she remembers the challenges of weaving two artistic careers into the fabric of family life--or maybe vice-versa; and she tenderly and painfully relates the last chapter of her marriage during her husband's illness. L'Engle's spiritual insights and reflections on love and life add value beyond the telling of the story of a remarkable marriage.

Here's a passage from the book that particularly spoke to me:

"Prayer. What about prayer? A friend wrote to me in genuine concern about Hugh, saying that she didn't understand much about intercessory prayer. I don't either. Perhaps the greatest saints do. Most of us don't, and that is all right. We don't have to understand to know that prayer is love, and love is never wasted.

Ellis Peters, in A Morbid Taste for Bones, one of her delightful medieval whodunits, gives a beautiful description of what I believe to be intercessory prayer: 'He prayed as he breathed, forming no words and making no specific requests, only holding in his heart, like broken birds in cupped hands, all those people who were in stress or grief.'

And George MacDonald asks, ' And why should the good of anyone depend on the prayer of another? I can only reply, Why should my love be powerless to help another?'

I do not believe that our love is powerless, though I am less and less specific in my prayers, simply holding out to God those for whom I am praying.

...What happens to all those prayers when not only are they not 'answered' but things get far worse than anyone ever anticipated? What about prayer?

We do not know. We will not know in this life. Some prayers are magnificently answered. More than once this has been the case in my own life, glorious miracles of prayer.

But this summer the answers have all been negative. The doctors say, 'Everything has gone wrong.' One thing after another.

What about prayer?

Surely the prayers have sustained me, are sustaining me. Perhaps there will be unexpected answers to these prayers, answers I may not even be aware of for years. But they are not wasted. They are not lost. I do not know where they have gone, but I believe that God holds them, hand outstretched to receive them like precious pearls."

Bragging Rights

My kids are truly wonderful. A. Peevie had a playdate, and the mom told Mr. Peevie that her son told her that the reason he liked A. Peevie so much is that he is so kind. "He's kind to everyone at school," the kid said. First of all, how great is it that a nine-year-old is even noticing that, and saying those words to his mom? And second, it's a mom's dream to hear those words about her own child.

And then C. Peevie had his own story to tell, about a big brawl among the sixth-graders. Apparently there was teasing and punching galore. One of the kids threated to punch C. Peevie's friend, who was innocent and uninvolved in the melee, and my boy stood up to him to defend his friend, but in a peacemaking way. "Why don't you back off," he said. "You're in enough trouble already."

Then after the kid went off to cry and nurse his wounds, C. Peevie and another friend went to find him, talk to him, and help him feel better.

I tell my kids over and over to solve their problems with words, to refrain from retaliating, and to care about other people's feelings. I see them bicker and fight at home, and sometimes I can't tell if my words are sinking in. And then God drops pearls in my lap like this, to let me know that they're doing OK.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Sister's Keeper

Just finished reading My Sister's Keeper this weekend. Jodi Picoult is the kind of writer who uses words like a paintbrush and who also tells great stories.

You know, some writers--Anne Lamott comes to mind--can write so well you just want to memorize the words they've put together to describe something common in a completely new and perfect way; but their stories are kind of meh. And then there are writers like Dan Brown who can tell a reasonably good story, but whose writing you want to mark up with a red pen.

But JP has it all. She puts words together in ways that inspire awe. And this story she came up with, it's modern, complex, touching, believable, painful and stunning. I loved it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Box?

A. Peevie is the kind of kid that makes you proud of kid-dom, and also a little afraid. He's hard to figure out sometimes. One time, when he was about four, or maybe three, he walked into the dining room and laid down prone on the hardwood floor, with his cheek against the floor. He just laid there, not moving, not saying anything for about ten minutes. For no apparent reason. Mr. Peevie and I just just looked at each other for a long time. "He's your son," I said.

A. Peevie thinks so far outside of the box that he doesn't even know there IS a box. He marches to the beat of a whole other orchestra. I love that about him.

He's nine now. He loves manatees--he has about eight stuffed ones, and a photo of his very own adopted manatee named Flash. He loves scientists and inventors, particularly Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Albert Einstein. Today he decided that he wanted to learn about geometry, because Einstein loved geometry, so he asked Dad to print out some geometry lessons for him. He worked his way through about 15 pages of basic geometry before bedtime. "Mom, do you know what a vertex is?" he asked me. I didn't.

He loves to draw, especially animals, cartoon characters, and Pokemon guys. I like to imagine what he might be when he grows up, but all I can come up with is a cartoonist.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Retro Insults: Are they bad?

Spoiler Alert!

I just learned the secret of The Prestige. I'm usually not quite so dense, but I totally missed the trick on this one. My friend King explained it to me, and I was all, What?! It's a cloning machine?! Now it's so obvious that I feel completely retarded.

And that comment right there brings up the question: Should I even be saying "I feel retarded"? I don't want to be mean and offensive, nor do I want to hurt somebody's feelings. But that word retarded is so retro funny that I find it hard to resist.

So my question is, why is it wrong for me to use that word? Let me guess: It's offensive and disrespectful to mentally disabled people. But why is it offensive and disrespectful to somebody who is mentally disabled? How is it disrespectful? I'm serious here. Is it worse than using the word "psycho" outside of the clinical context of psychotic?

If you are persuasive enough, I will remove it from my vocabulary.

Virgin Green Room Post

Welcome to the virgin Green Room post, from your blog host, E. Peevie. We'll be talking about all sorts of things here, including books, movies, TV shows, language, parenting, Jesus, and much, much more.

I'm new to blogging, so you'll have to be patient while I maneuver the learning curve. I"ll try to learn quickly.

Today I finished re-reading Bridge to Terabithia, anticipating that my kids will want to see the movie, and I always want to read the book first. I remembered from my long-ago first reading that there was tragedy, but still it took me by surprise, and I was surreptitiously wiping tears from the corners of my eyes as I was reading on the train.

So, the obvious question is, what does the bridge mean? Why did Jess build it? I'm going to think about these things before I write what I think.

Meanwhile, I'd like to invite you to visit one of my favorite online communities, if you haven't already: Oh, man. It's so cool, it's like opening a fire hydrant at a Chicago block party in August.

OK, that's all for now. Gotta go catch the latest installment of Battlestar Gallactica with Mr. Peevie. It's our bonding time.