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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Calling, Day 8: Losing My Religion

jenmichel@me.com

My friend compares my life to a duck: tranquility at surface level, the motoring hidden from view. She reminds me of this during her recent visit, and it always makes me laugh. I don’t consider it entirely true. Those who know our family well enough have borne witness to the free-for-all chaos that moves on ten legs, the less-than-tranquil around-the-table drumming and clamoring and raise-the-roof ear-splitting noise. Murphy’s Law of large families? Someone is always tired, hungry, needing correction, or wanting to be carried. Should you be lucky enough, this child may be suffering from all aforementioned conditions simultaneously at precisely the exact moment when you yourself fight feeling hungry, tired, and needing to be carried. During her visit this week, my friend watches the below-the-surface motoring and seems to appreciate more profoundly the complexity of getting out of the door with five children (six now, including her son). We pack sandwiches, fill water bottles, include extra snacks for the foreseen moments of meltdown. We gather towels and swimsuits, apply sunblock and call for children to go to the bathroom one more time before heading into the city. There is no “winging-it” in this family, just old-fashioned motoring and paddling and trying hard to keep pace with the gaggle.

It reminds me why I have written less than I have wanted to this summer. But when Audrey seeks my hand yesterday and holds it as we walk from the subway, through the city, off the ferry, and all the way to the beach, I can’t help asking: how much longer will this last? She is eleven now, growing into her new body. She is growing into self, and the days are numbered when I will be able to hold her hand, she so unselfconsciously happy. It is hard to believe that the sun is setting on her childhood.

Dusk of girlhood, summer nights studded with fireflies and stars: linger here.

I will write this fall when school starts. There will be time then, which is a thought I think and intend for dissolving the hurry and impatience, even the stupid self-importance, of this call. Sometimes the thought succeeds in unknotting that tangle. Often it doesn’t, and I am left with the reminder that it is for daily bread I am meant to pray.

Calling is an everyday matter, as most of our life is. Daily, listening and watching for God, daily surrendering to Him the below-the-surface motoring, daily remembering to linger and laugh. And daily-ness shreds the self-importance, reminds me of my poverty.

Lining up for daily bread is the only way to lose your religion.

Our Father in heaven:

The One with the aerial view.

Your name is hallowed, holy.

Rain down bread upon us;

Grant us a feast for our living and working,

This, your divine sustenance for our limbs.

But just enough for today,

Lord,

Just sufficient, everyday grace,

Lord,

Because lining up, poor and bedraggled,

We remember to find

Your face.