the daily strange

If I could write about anything – anything at all – what would I write?

I have asked this question many times.

I ask it today, as I gratefully slip out of office for lunch break. It is raining. I sit in my family’s little green car to eat my carrots. They taste so sweet and so orange after being at a grey desk in a grey room on a grey ball above grey-ish carpet for the past five hours. Well, even the sky is grey today, but at least it is sky and not walls.

It reminds me of a children’s book. A nasty shrew stole all the colours of the rainbow out of the world and left only grey. They catapulted some small animal into the sky to get the colours back – I find I don’t remember what actually happened – but it impressed me at the time that I could wake up to a world without colour.

That shrew must have visited my office. But he can’t steal the crisp slices of orange in my hands now.

Years ago, I babysat two little girls. They always begged for night time stories. They wanted to craft their own stories that revolved around themselves – the princesses. They asked what I would look like as a princess and where I would live? It paused me, then, to realize how long it had been since I had woven a fairy tale story. As a child, I wrote almost only fiction. But not anymore. Why?

I wonder it still sometimes, although I can guess at the answer. The life under my nose and in front of my eyes is enough fodder for the imagination, maybe.

I look at the rain crying itself down my windows, one drop beginning the slow descent and pulling others in as it slides. I look through those window-rivers at a puddle.

We look so far for things to think of, to write of, but the dailiest is sometimes the strangest. The puddle is an irregular mirror reflecting the corner of a blue car, green window blinds, and yellow brick wall. Pummeled by falling rain, it is chopped into a thousand alterations each moment, yet the colours tenaciously persist, as if they are deep, far out of the reach of surface drops. How does a cracked pavement collect liquid beauty?

Puddles are mysteries.

I turn on the car to feel some heat. It’s the end of March and yesterday’s snow gave way to today’s rain. I feel so tired. And there is still an afternoon of the same task I have been doing for the past five months – how do people do jobs like this for their whole adult lives? How do I do it? The afternoon hours will drag their heels and feel like an eternity. But I will finish them. I am, after all, Dutch. Giving up is not an option.

Straight ahead of me is a bare tree, the dark branches grotesquely twisted. Behind the tree is another block of offices mirroring the one behind me, where I work.

It is so dismal, yet here I am. Sitting here, loving Canada. And at the same time, how I miss Africa. How does one trap the undercurrents of even one moment of a heart in a bottle of words? How do you cork it, toss it into the ocean of human communication, wait for some beach comber to find and read your scribbled message: on March 21, 2017 a human heart was beating in a Volkswagen Jetta during lunch break?

A black Hyundai drives past, right through my puddle. I meditate on noting her license number, giving her a call. Do you know your back wheel is wet with mystery?

Music floods the car and the way the wind rocks it makes me feel strangely out of sync with the beat. Suddenly, words to a song I don’t listen to often, “I know that You have come down, even if to write upon my heart, to remind me who You are.”

God can write anything, and He chose just this. He chose to write upon one human heart a reminder of who He is.

He is the meta-mystery that breathes life into a muddy puddle, wonder into thin carrot slices. His writing makes every moment of every day – yes, even the most dailiest day, a marvel.

I survive the afternoon.

The way home is stop-and-go traffic in the rain and mostly uphill. I stall in an intersection, but the cars are so backed up it makes no difference.  I wonder what the hearts in the cars around me are speaking. And I smile because the beats coming out of the speakers make the little Jetta tremble and in them I hear home, a continent far away.

I pull into the driveway and stand in the rain for a few minutes.

There is a feel to falling rain that is a world of difference to the feel of the world a moment before it falls. There is a feel to snow, too. Yesterday, as I walked up the sidewalk, I felt the coming snow in the ground and saw it in the sky.

The wind that brings snow is an expectant coldness. It’s Mother Nature cupping your face in her hands and you’re wondering, doesn’t she know how freezing her hands are? But there’s a gentleness in her touch. If she was much colder, snow would not fall at all.

When I left the grocery store yesterday, the snow had already begun. I smiled then, because the angels did it again. They mistake Canada for their kitchen counter and are sprinkling us generously with white flour to roll out their cookies. What else could snow be?

Now, I stand in rain and exhale. Tonight will be the same as every other weeknight. I will exercise, wash dishes, eat supper with my family. Tonight I will hold my cello between my knees and watch reflections in the shiny red body. I will pluck the strings; sound will vibrate through the thin wood into my chest, into my bones.

I’ll see my sisters smile. We’ll dance as we do dishes. I’ll write this blog post. And go to bed snuggled under a sleeping bag, thinking, daily life is so fragrant with mysteries… ones we take for granted.

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