Lighting candles, praying for sidewalks

I lit a few thrift-store votive jars tonight at dinner.

“God, thanks for these candles, which remind us that though today is pretty ordinary, it’s actually a holy thing, all of us around this table. Thanks for the sunshine outside, still, and this food, and these people.” And we threw in some more words for “hurting places” (my children’s term for what other kids call boo-boos), and for the monkey bread on the counter. I’m here, all the way: cold linoleum under my socks and all.

Flickering lights in those glass jars held my attention throughout that whole meal. I’d taken them down from the shelf this afternoon to wash them. The effect was mesmerizing. The sparkle! Drawing me back to right here, right now, this cliched-but-true spilled milk; these kids complaining because it’s bean soup again. Dave here for dinner, thank God.

We’ve had a string of afternoons of ennui, these girls and I: a pudgy-fingered toddler rips a plastic T. Rex from her sister’s bony grip, and they both scream, and my voice is thick with fatigue. I bark: “Please. PLEASE.” I cannot break up another fight over plastic prehistorics. I cannot: Not until April.

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