There’s a new baby living at our house now: Fenne (pronounced “Fen”), born at the end of February. My transition to caring for two darling daughters has felt about as graceful as the ocean surf: breaking and churning in chaos one moment, soft quiet ebb the next, often both at once. The ocean surf—always stunning in its beauty, striking awe with its power, demanding full attention.
Fenne lives up to her Dutch name’s meaning: peace. She’s a buoyant being, with openhearted affection and curiosity, and a fiery distaste for the slightest wet diaper. Her sister adores her, and is forging her own path as a three-year-old, testing boundaries, imagining her own stories, going for hikes, telling jokes, loving fiercely.
This two-kid thing has been a seismic change in our home, and one I would always choose again could I go back in time . . . but seismic.
And just a few weeks after Fenne was born, the shelter-in-place orders went into effect, and, well, you know what happened: literally everyone in the world dove into the edgy waters of the unknown.
My days and nights have been full, changing diapers, breastfeeding, wrestling up dinner, mediating toddler tragedies, keeping the laundry machine going, sprinting to the garden for brief interludes, riding imaginary hot air balloons with my three-year-old, snuggling my baby, touching my grief about loved ones’ hard times, connecting with my husband.
I also try to keep a finger on what’s happening “beyond.” Social media and the news media clamor for attention, and for instant response. There’s lots to be discussed and researched, and so much discernment needed to find the thread of truth in any emotionally-driven narrative. I believe conversation and engagement and action are crucial to being a connective and creative human. Yes.
But do you also feel how all the stories pull on us, maybe can pull you out of you?
Here is an invitation to keep coming home.
I know. You’re already home. Maybe you’re sick by now of being home. But I mean keep coming home to yourself, to delighting in what you can touch, to wrestling with the challenges of your own life.
Wendell Berry, the farmer-activist-author, writes, “The right scale in work gives power to affection. When one works beyond the reach of one’s love for the place one is working in, and for the things and creatures one is working with and among, then destruction inevitably results. An adequate local culture, among other things, keeps work within the reach of love.”
Tend your own plot. Trust your deep knowing. Move outward connected to the truth you find within.
I’m amazed each year how glorious a garden can grow from a handful of seeds. Trust the power in the small. A wise man once said something about moving mountains with the faith of a mustard seed. As we feel the swirl around us, the pull in many directions (including, perhaps, the pull to hide under the covers), let us keep faith with ourselves, friends.
Take care until next time.
Newborn Fenne photo by Sharolyn Townsend Photography