so it flows

My mom said it best, "For Natalie," she said, "Life is a bowl of cherries." Natalie continues to explore life with great eagerness and enthusiasm, if not grace. These days, every time I turn around she has climbed onto the kitchen table, and is standing there with a marker in one hand and paper in the other. She can now "draw" for long stretches and I take great comfort in the fact that she relishes at least one quiet activity.

Last week we went to see the lava flowing. Natalie was on my back, and Anna and Hayden and Amy and I had to carefully walk over cool, crusty jagged lava for about 100 yards. It was a harrowing walk, as lava is made of 50% silica and it really, really hurts when you fall. We arrived at dusk, so we had to trust our flashlights and follow a makeshift trail of orange dashes to get to the ocean.

Once there, we watched a river of orange pour into the water, hitting with great force and hissing. The lava was constantly changing and swirling in unexpected ways. It had already consumed a subdivision and forest before we got here, and it was contently munching on the road when we arrived.

As we walked back to the car we looked back and there was a curving trail of white flashlights as others made their perilous way over the lava to get to the viewing area. It struck me that these onlookers looked like they were in a paschal procession, headed toward the lava, toward a glimpse of creation.

On the way home we listened to one of my favorite CDs, a Hawaiian singer named IZ. Before one of his songs he talked about how he doesn't really fear for his own death because "In Hawaii, we live in both worlds, we live on both sides." And watching that river of red flowing into the sea against the inky, smoke filled sky, I think I had a feel for what he meant.

Life here does feel fragile, precious, perilous. The earth is literally shifting and recreating itself beneath our feet. There are small tremors every night, which I never feel, but I accept the reality that nothing is quite as stable as I imagined, that creation and destruction come together sometimes, and that even the dark, gloomy lava breaks down into fertile soil over time, that what appears as death ultimately disintegrates into life, lush and surprising and fragrant. This is not a bad thing to see and feel beneath my feet, not bad at all, as we head into lent, on this perilous journey through death to life.


TJ said...

The picture was so beautiful, and then the post was too- thank you! where was that picture taken?

Arlene Pellicane said...

Found your blog through Ungrind. Your story "Rachel's Tears" was very moving and beautifully written. You have a true gift for writing. I also write for Ungrind. I noticed your book about miscarriage and thought you might like watching my story about miscarrying a baby Angel at 6 months. You can search You Tube with my name "Arlene Pellicane" and you'll see it. Here's the link also: http://youtube.com/watch?v=KVJLL2lCV7M
Since then God has given us a beautiful baby girl Noelle. We were just in Maui last month and loved it.

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful to catch a little glimpse of your life through the blogosphere. Your daughters are beautiful! Tell John hello! (And thanks for the Christmas card... it was fun to share the picture and info with my husband!)

From the Oregon Coast,

Julia said...

I love this recurring theme since you moved to Hawaii, and it is especially meaningful for Lent. I've never been to Hawaii but I can always picture your adventures so clearly when you describe them. Natalie is adorable and what your mom said reminds me of what Jeff's dad always says about Esme: "She just has too much fun in life." Maybe Natalie and Esme are going to backpack across Europe together one day. : )

Ser said...

This post is so beautiful, Jenny. I love hearing about Natalie's exploits. I also love hearing about life in Hawaii, which reminds me of Alaska so much, in that they are places dominated by their landscape and such a spirit of adventure and isolation. While I'm in Ohio I can live vicariously through you.

Also, thanks for the Lenten inspiration. I'm warming up very, very slowly to Lent this year, but your post and Presanctified last night are helping.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, thanks for stopping by my blog and for leaving a comment. I've been a big fan of your writing for a few years now. I've been reading your articles on Boundless (and now Ungrind)for sometime. I love your writing. It's very literary and contemplative. I appreciate that, because most articles on the web don't have those qualities. I agree with Arlene, you really do have a gift.

Stitchingmum said...

Jenny, I've come to your blog through 'Ungrind', having just read your piece 'Rachel's Tears'. It was of particular interest to me because a dear friend of mine died suddenly a few days ago, leaving behind his wife of 10 weeks. Your story was so relevant to what I'm seeing in my life and those of people around me, but in particular the last paragraph of this post spoke volumes of what is in my heart at the moment. I have words brewing in my heart and my head for a future post on my blog, but for now, your words echo what it is I feel and live at the moment. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jessica said...

Oh, wow. That was amazing to read! Thank you!!!