Each time I have a child in grade 4 there’s one field trip that I like to go on. I’m mostly done with the tagging along and chaperoning a bunch of children to the always rainy pumpkin patch or the always boring planetarium. I’ve long sworn off riding on the bus with a rambunctious gaggle of children all sweaty headed and loud. But the grade 4 trip takes you back to a time when movies were silent and blacksmiths banged out horseshoes and the general store has items that I long to decorate my home with.
It also has a carousel.
The carousel gets me every time. It’s not an adventure ride and it doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping or warrant fist pumps to the crowd. No, the carousel is different.
It all starts in the line up as you’re waiting to get on and you see the children before you riding round and round and you’re not focused on them at all but simply on which horse you’re going to pick and run for as soon as that gate opens. Which one looks the most majestic or bobs up and down at just the right pace. Which one has the most jewels adorning her head or the prettiest sheen on her mane. It’s a psychological tapping into which horse most fits your needs just then and which one you want to be atop when the music starts to play. The warrior or the princess.
Our Easter weekend was all the things that are perfect about the carousel ride. Not too fast and yet not too slow. Timing and pace are everything with both affairs. It had the perfect rhythm of ups and downs but none so far up that it made the middle’s seem nominal and not too low down that the grin ever got wiped off your face for you know the down simply leads into the next up.
I don’t have one picture of my children on the carousel, though all 3 of them have been on this field trip with me in tow, camera phone in hand. Of course I have pictures of them in front of the tiny old church and in front of the ice cream shop or even sitting in the old school house, backs straight so as to not get the ruler across their palms, but none on the carousel.
I knew our weekend was nearing perfection when I realized just the same. When I had the fleeting thought of, “I don’t know where my phone is.” But it never beckoned enough for me to stand up to find it. As if taking my focus off of what was right there before me might have caused a warble in the weekend. Might have caused me to lose my balance on the carousel and spend my time trying to capture what really cannot be captured anyways.
The photos don’t make the memories though, do they? I have the best images in my mind of my sons smile as they glided round on their horse. I can hear their laughter and see the motion they made of drawing out a sword as they round the bend. Even all the hearts on instagram and knowing you revelled in that moment with me couldn’t make it better. In fact, I fear I may just remember the little snap shot moments instead of everything in between, if I had just that one shot.
I don’t have a picture to show for our Easter but I have a trilogy of it playing in my head. Each day the memories gathered could make a feature film that perhaps only I would want to see but I’m going to watch it over and over and over.
The moments around the breakfast table with all 5 of us. A rarity in these parts and something to hold on to. The reading of scripture on good friday and being so impossibly indecisive about how far back in the story I should go to begin the reading. Where does one start? “Genesis,” says the Hubs and I swoon because he’s all too right.
I have engrained the laughter and the sound of running feet from the front door to the back, trying to escape the capture of their second cousins once removed (?!) Family that our children didn’t know one bit that in an instant became playmates and friends. The dirty feet and the grass stained jeans don’t matter one bit because something is going on outside that you can only watch. Community is forming amongst your littles and the littles of extended family and it’s something beautiful to behold and a picture couldn’t capture what this means or what this day holds.
I remember the feelings, the do-we-have-to-go-alreadys, though you’ve played for hours and the babies need to go to bed and the adults just deem it time and yet you don’t know when you’ll see these people again and it all seems just a bit unfair and like the adults hold all the cards. Because they do.
But the ride isn’t over and this was just one day and there are more to come we’re just slowing it down for a minute to regroup and rest and head into it again tomorrow…
Mid-ride the pace always picks up just a bit and you’re not sure you can sustain. More food and more driving and more, more more, but the smiles, oh the smiles, of everyone around you gathered at the table that is our carousel for the weekend make you know that even if it gets just a tad bit hairy it’s all so good.
It’s a new table and new company and a baby passed around for snuggles. It’s new food and new wine and new stories to tell. It’s obstacle courses set up in basements and little cousins that look up to you like you’re the best thing that ever happened and please don’t take a minute to stop. It’s nieces that feel more like friends now, given the age they are, and the teasing they have to take from uncles wondering who that boy was that was with them the other day.
It’s stories and laughter and food and community and what we all long for, right here around the table. It’s the kingdom of heaven here on earth in a glimmer so slight and yet all we can handle because how could it get any better than a squishy faced baby asleep in grandma’s arms and melt in your mouth dessert topped with the sprinkles that may not change from one generation to the next.
I’ve always wondered how the carousel can go round and round and round and yet you never leave dizzy. I’ve always imagined the blueprints and the designer (With a european accent in my mind) coming up with the perfect size circle and the perfect speed so that you never feel queasy, only pure delight. The creator, timing things with such precision, so that it’s not more than you can handle but each corner leads you to a new place and each rise and fall brings you joy. Perfectly paced joy.
Our creator does the same, without the accent, I presume, but He led us from Friday to Sunday with the perfect timing of not more than we can handle under the weight before getting to the glory of the resurrection. His blueprint perfect. His timing precise.
We proclaim that He is Risen and the thoughts go through my head that Scripture is right, it looks foolish. It sounds foolish. To those around us who don’t believe I can only imagine we look a bit crazy but when you know something with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and the words line up and the documents are there and history shows and your heart is bursting, well – looking the fool doesn’t matter at all.
We respond with, “He is risen, indeed!”
The ride changes just a bit here because it’s now right here. It’s in our home. It’s not us as the guests but us as the hosts and there’s a beauty in that that can’t be captured. Boys scouring the house for a few more chairs doesn’t make for social media shout outs but their feet scurrying and their hands helping to prepare for friends make a mama’s heart glad.
The smell of cinnamon buns in the oven makes our bellies rumble. The smell of coffee dripping into our mugs make our eyes open a wee bit wider. The texts of, “We’re on our way,” make boys actions excited and anticipatory and the joy of seeing these friends that feel more like family is on their faces.
And the arrival with hugs and babies and gumboots and slicked over hair makes my heart sing. He is risen. He is here. The kingdom of God in extra chromosomes and babies hands digging in a pot of dirt. The kingdom of God in teenagers bonding over whipped cream on waffles. The kingdom of God in conversation that dives straight into tales oft kept in but shared so freely here. There’s no chatter about weather or sales at the mall. No we plunge head first into the good stuff. The heart stuff.
I think of how Easter Sunday should be spent and my mind goes to visions of church and arms raised and heads bowed and unending worship. But my images are often alone. One person standing in awe before God and yes, this is good, but today this is worship. Babes running with arms raised and swinging a fly swatter around, holy noises of laughter from the other room as pre-teens watch old video clips from when they were little, heads bowed to wipe dirt off of faces or pick up a child or breathing in that spot on their head that smells like heaven itself.
And it’s another table and it’s more food and it’s dark coffee and it’s heaven right here in our home.
Of course, as soon as it comes it’s on its way out again. And as joyous as the hugs were upon arrival we sink just a little when we must hug on the way out.
And just like that carousel, we know it will all end in a blink. We will grasp for more, just a few more bobs, as the pace inevitably slows and we know the end is near. We’ll cry for more, just a wee bit more, but alas the man with the whistle and the hat will direct you which way to the exit and back to real life all too soon.