You should have seen it. The sheer size of it. A collection that started in the third grade. My sleeveless white cotton button up with the sailboats that was my very favorite. That’s what I was wearing the day it started. My stringy hair frizzed into submission by the smell of Joske’s. And dirty socks. No doubt I was wearing them. The day I decided I wasn’t going to be this for one more day. The dusty of the longest almost mile to nowhere every morning wishing I played the feather lite flute instead of the big brown case of the violin. The darkest mystery of what was really happening when I gathered my sibs to color more often than I should have. Didn’t matter what reality was and it’s surely better that way. My perception of it was all I needed to begin building an amazing and shiny alter. I started to pay closer attention. Closer attention to the shiny hair and tucked in shirts. Of the bright and ultraness of white. White eyes, teeth and tshirts. All showing something I did not have. Clean. I wrongly assumed their outsides of clean matched their insides. It would be much later when that lesson was introduced. I started to collect the things and make a stack. Just a foundation you see of all that made people more. So much more. The memorization of the lyrics and movements I sure didn’t master. Wearing deodorant and cleaning the socks. Stacking them atop the foundation. The foundation of what was to be the alter of normal. Starting with acquiring the shiniest of things. Not so easy in a household of five where a big chunk of the budget dedicated itself to drugs and alcohol. But I had an ace in the hole. An ace of all the aces and I still have her. Someone that recognized the importance to a child of having the right shoes at the right time. And I added those Kaepa’s right onto the pile. I poofed and scrunched and I even Aussie sprunched after the Rave until high school when I gave it all up for clean and freshly blown out stick straight. Merle Norman was my grace and we spent a lot of time together. I still love to look at those pictures. Fast forward to moving a step in the right direction with all the right stuff and all the right places with all the right people. By now this alter is enormous. I know I must be close. Normal. I know I’ll know it when I feel it. Detour into a place to numb feelings with the demons of my Daddy’s breathing hot on my neck. Turning around and seeing the evil in the empty eyes of addiction and turning away. Small victory. One by one. Finding the path. Finally. Selfishly and then selflessly. Noticing the size of the alter and it’s facing the wrong way. And so I begin to dismantle the mantle, for it’s representing the wrong team. Watching and looking for just the right place. Beginning to reassemble the assembly and finding that it does not fit. The foundation has been laid. It’s deep in my soul. There’s no room for this accumulation of goals I have collected. No room at all. The foundation has been laid.
She will never know the way I knew. She will know her own way. No doubt filled with darkness but also for sure and for certain so much light. She will not be handed the keys to adulthood the day she can remember. I pray that she will take her time and even be grateful someday that her Daddy and I are the curbs on her road to everywhere. That her path is illuminated by Him just as mine was but that she will know it and embrace it and begin building her alter with the foundation of life from the beginning of her alter building.
The Builder says He will provide all I need to build. He will provide the plans and the place. I will stand here, hammer in hand and excitedly wait. For this time the alter isn’t in the excitement of the build. It’s in the excitement of the Builder and the process of the building. Each nail. One and then another. For me. And for her.
Matthew 7:24-27 MSG
24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.