Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chalk Art

I had a great time hosting a Mother’s Day party this year. The mothers—my mom and one of my sisters—felt honored, and that was my goal. I’d prettied the dining room with profusions of flowers on every flat surface. Crystal water and wine glasses sparkled on cloth table cloths, and bright pink, springy, flowery napkins brightened the table. My sister’s kids and their spouses enlivened the party with unbridled youthful energy. It was definitely a fun party!

Later, however, watching a video of the afternoon, I was dismayed to see a grumpy expression on my face. How could that be? I’d had such a good time; how could it not show on my face? There was the video though—proof positive. I know I smiled and laughed and goofed around. The video just didn’t catch those moments. But video proof forced me to admit, I’d also been overly task-focused during the party. For example, I’d chosen to hand-wash the crystal glasses at the kitchen sink, with my back to my guests. When my mom said later, “Gee I wish you’d worked the jigsaw puzzle with us,” I assured her I’d had my ear tuned to their conversation and had interjected remarks a few times. Really, Jane, that’s being “with us”? Although I felt no resentment about not being helped, hindsight called to mind Jesus’ busting Martha for not choosing the better thing, just sitting with Him. Thankfully, I wasted only about 20 minutes of a four-hour party, but next time, I’m going to let the dishes sit.

I even have a picture to help me remember this lesson. Since neighborhood kids have been out in force with buckets of chunky chalk, sidewalk gazing during springtime walks is as entertaining as an art gallery opening (only without box wine and cheese and crackers). To give a chalk-art analogy—on Mother’s Day, I was not the kid crawling around the sidewalk to draw blue flowers and green clouds and wildly asymmetrical rainbows with purple pots of gold—or even a hopscotch grid. I was the kid, apparently a young goal-oriented Martha, marching from goopy bird blob to goopy bird blob and circling each one with white chalk so that each bird blob looked like a target.

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