Posted by: MC | April 28, 2012

On the Road in Omaha

Yesterday I drove through rain at the end of 8 hours on the highway.  I drove I-80W again — through what this time I learned is the National Silos and Smokestacks Historic Area. I hadn’t noticed this three years ago and found myself tweeting ( a behavior I still can’t quite square with my sense of self), “Who knew?”

Beyond the rain was Council Bluffs, Iowa and a family of four — people who are kin to me in my adult-made family.  I’ve known the dad since graduate school, the mom since they married, the kids since birth.  Dearer than dear.  And the dad and kids are three of the 100 VOICES.

We were to meet at the ball field — baseball.   It was Friday night in middle America — it was lovely and green and too cold and windy.  Adults cheered, kids teamed in the way all of us have done these things for centuries.  I walked under the bright lights between three soggy diamonds looking for the signs — black uniforms, red Ms on caps.  I was too enchanted to notice the cold, the wind.  I was also early.

I finally found my beloved family just in time for a new storm to hit, the games cancelled seconds before the enormous and icy drops began hurling themselves against every available surface.

Back in their warm home, we — dad, mom, 9 year old boy, 7 year old girl and I — shared stories and laughter in the precious little time we had with one another.   We pulled out the globe, we looked up the Dalai Lama on the web and played geography game on Sporcle.  The girl had prepared her room as the place I would sleep.  I did sleep.  Deep and generous sleep under hand stitched words surrounding a ballerina in pink tulle, “Good night stars, good night moon, good night friends, I’ll see you soon.”

This morning we convened again with tea and coffee, with bagels and strawberries.  I took photos.  There was more Sporcle and there were preparations for the morning’s sports.  More baseball — and volleyball.

There is change and there is what endures.  I write about those things a lot here.  In my hours here in Omaha I’m seeing again the power of parenting.  I dip in every three years or so and see how the lifelong curriculum of being in a family together is constantly forming and reforming these four attentive, kind and vividly thoughtful people.  At different times, each of the parents said without any guile or fatigue, “I just do all I can to support the family.”  As a matter of course, they do what they do because it is good for all four.

Middle America and a family with two cats on the edge of a modest development with farmland and prairie out the back door.  Yes, I’m smitten, but I’m also heartened.  I know it isn’t perfect for this in a trouble-free, conflict-free way; and I know it is too easy not to see how families and communities are making a good go of it — they’re working.  Waking and moving about in communities of every kind — communities that work, communities that by their daily self-renewal teach what the changing and the enduring look like.

Turning around to look at the stage upon which the glitz of media and political drama occur (in a remarkably small section of the stage, by the way) seems a practice worth trying out.  Lots has to be working for problems to have the space to arise.  Think about it.  I will be — right now — on the road to Colorado Springs.


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