erin f. wasinger

stories of loving our neighbors, discernment, & other hard things

Author: Erin (Page 1 of 15)

Advice for those discouraged by the election

Dave, Louisa, and I climbed a few uneven cement steps to the door of a stranger. Knocked.

A woman wearing a beautiful teal scarf on her head answered the door with a confused expression. It’s hard to convey “we’re here to mentor you” with someone who doesn’t speak English.

Pause.

For those of you who woke up Wednesday discouraged, consider this moment. Think about what we as hopeful visionaries, Jesus followers, and do-gooders have gained, even in our disappointment.

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Owning a piece of earth

We found the house taking a long detour home from worship on Sunday. When we turned on the street I thought, “I could live here.” Maples, the first in leaves, lined the street.

When we stopped outside the house, I thought, “I feel as if I already live here.”

An hour later, as we waited for the realtor to unlock the door, I felt my heart beat in my throat. Louisa was on my hip; we’d woken her from a nap to see this place, and she was groggy and her fist clung to my shirt. And inside, I kept saying, “Dave. This is it.”

They flipped light switches and pushed garage door buttons, and banged the side door open and shut going in and out, claiming the house with their informality. “Are we going to live here?!” the girls asked as they ran around the back yard. Louisa’s grogginess morphed into hyperactivity.

“I think we are,” we said.

This place is going to be home, God willing. 

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Everything’s coming up green: Mudroom guest post

I spent the first eighteen months looking for signposts that life sprouts here in our new state.

After a historically snowy winter last year in Michigan, I stalked trees for buds. I gently nudged snow from the neighbor’s crocuses with the toe of my boot, my soul hungry for a flowering something, anything that signified new beginnings. I made acquaintances, I joined a small group. I wrote long letters back to friends out of state, and watched birds nesting in a bush in the front of our rental home. The girls’ Easter baskets each had a packet of forget-me-not seeds, and I planted them with mixed emotions in the dirt we didn’t own, in this place I didn’t love, and nothing came up. Not a flower.

{{ I’m sharing on The Mudroom today – you can read the whole post here. }}

 

 

Already and not yet, but the hummingbirds are coming back soon

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Earlier today, the girls and I pumped our legs on the swings under a mostly cloudless canopy of blue. Some trees hinted at turning green; others not at all yet. We startled a snake walking to a picnic table to set down our water bottles near the playground at the woods. We unzipped our coats in the sun; put them back on in the shade. Alice picked me a trout lily because I’m her “best mom.” I accepted it gratefully, but left it wilting on the picnic table because I’m not the best mom. I’m tired, grateful for siblings who’ll play when I want to sit.

For a while the playground was theirs alone, but two moms strolled over with toddlers. I busied myself at the table with a pen and a notebook. I tried not to hear their reviews of weight-loss shakes and gym memberships. I regretted not bringing a caffeinated tea, and my mind flitted from my notebook to the sky — the blue sky, obstructed by leafless trees. I want a big blue sky, I wrote in my notebook. A big blue sky. And I want to run.

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Do not be afraid … of the word ‘calling’

We wore our winter hats and our spring jackets to the playground yesterday. I carried a thick book about callings, whatever that means, and sat on the merry-go-round to read a few sentences between the girls hollering for me to watch this, look at that. I chose a Dorothy Sayers piece about artists being the closest to understanding vocation; it was a good choice. Artists make money so we can create, she writes, and in that, we’re doing holy work. Others earn a paycheck so they can live, she writes. Yes, yes, I nodded. “For the artist there is no distinction between work and living. His work is his life, and the whole of his life …” Yes, Dorothy, I’m an artist.

After about an hour of this mental exercise of counting children from where I sat and molding my interpretation of vocation two or three sentences at a time, dirty-mouthed teenagers drove us into the woods.

“Look! Trout lily leaves!” I cried, peeling some autumnal leaves from the wildflower’s spotted ones. “Just like Mary in Secret Garden,” Alice piped in.

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‘I have no idea what comes next,’ I say. ‘Samesies,’ Mary would’ve said

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Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl, Crucifixion, 1485; Detroit Institute of Art

Right now, the youngest is napping. Alice lays on her belly under a still-leafless maple; Violet sits cross-legged beside her with a stuffed rabbit in her lap. They’re so far out from my spot on the front stoop that I can’t hear them: this moment is parenting’s high-water mark. An Eastern phoebe’s returned to nest under our deck; bugs fly by and I’ve forgotten their names. Daffodils are three inches above ground. The world goes on knowing what to do and when to do it, but I’m on the stoop, wondering.

I carry around all these possibilities in my imagination. I stack them up on the dresser top beside me while I fold clothes, or lay on the windowsill while I wash dishes. I toy with moving to a house we would own in the city; moving to a suburb for the schools. I stack up the open-enrollment deadline for schools of choice; I consider visiting buildings I’m not excited about. Kindergarten open house and my will-be second-grader’s Tums in her pocket. Writing this book about “radical faith” with someone who once lived in an intentional community, and wondering how no one’s picked up yet that my past is much more predictable. I read tough books and wash a dozen loads of towels, toddler leggings, sweatshirts, and pillow cases every week.

All these possibilities, I carry around.

Aren’t humans the worst? Aren’t we, to be thinking of this while the world sings the Doxology; while flowers come up and buds open?

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My Catholic baptism, my Methodist adulthood

I think more about being Catholic now that I’m Methodist.

I joke that my intolerance of repetition comes from my years of liturgy, never unpacked. When I read the bible, sometimes I hear the organist singing hymns from the Catholic songbook: Jean, the organist, always singing these words I had no idea came from Isaiah or a psalm. It’s still bizarre that I could spend close to twenty years immersed in liturgy and still think Habakkuk was a typo, not a book in the bible.

My bible-marinated friends were so patient the first time I read it cover to cover. “And when the Israelites were in the desert, it’s JUST LIKE ME,” I went on and on, drowned myself in these similes and metaphors. Really, it was kind of embarrassing how enthusiastic I was over this book I’d had in a Rubbermaid container since my first communion in second grade.

I’m so grateful for that experience, and all that’s happened since, and the Methodists who don’t blink at this — but I’m also coming to term with what my baptism in the Catholic faith has given me, too.

Last weekend I was with a group of mostly evangelical writers, who very passionately and honestly used phrases to describe their work that were heavy with “it was laid on my heart,” and “God gave me a burden for.” I tumbled those over and over in my mind: laid on my heart; a burden on my heart; broke my heart for.

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