Always Begin Again

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Always we begin again. ~St. Benedict

Call them overachievers, but most Mondays have a way of living right on up to the half-glass expectations of the usually at least once-weekly pessimistic masses.
This last one had started out promising: waking up to the strong thumb of coffee pulling me out of bed by my nose, I spent a good long while with Jesus and also a bit of time in a happy place of writing. I sauntered, oh yes I did, out on the back deck to welcome the sun into its own day and drained the dregs of a cream-heavy brew with a smallish grin.
Satisfied with my choosing good things for the day, I relished a long lungful of fresh river air and snuggled down deeper into the warm blanket of peace stitched right around my heart.
And then all the people got up and Monday began to show its tail.
In just this side of fifteen minutes, the first aid kit had been plundered, only all the most-needed clothes were in the middle of a long wash cycle and I finally lost all my marbles over a picky eater who said ‘nothing tasted right.’
Desperately trying to remember all Jesus had said to me, I ran to my bedroom before I said every last thing I wanted to that I would ever regret.
Eyeing my clean-smelling husband carefully folding his fancy meeting suit into his carry-on bag, I patted down the nest some sort of bird had made in my hair overnight and scratched the back side of yesterday’s yoga pants I had slept in.
‘Why are you so quiet this morning?’ my sweet boy asks me.
Maybe some of the times I just want to smell good and be fancy…did you ever think of that?
My neck may have wobbled a bit in my silent reply.
We both knew my flesh was showing and I replied, ‘I think I’m just tired.’
The morning wore on like pangs of hunger until somehow after some yelling and maybe a police whistle we were all, finally, in the car and on the way to school.
The only sound coming for a good long while was the tick-ticking blinker and, if you leaned in hard enough to listen, me silently cursing myself.
The familiar taste of a failed morning sat bitter on my tongue.
I heard the words in the car just as if someone had whispered them out into the air:
Always we begin again.
I ignored them for a bit because I was fed up to here on being right about everything all the time.
But it wasn’t a mile down the road before I pried one handful of fingers from the expectations I woke up with and the other from the control I love so much.
‘Well. This wasn’t the smoothest morning we’ve ever had, huh?’
I glanced over at my passenger and then searched for and met eyes in the rearview mirror.
The atmosphere itself seemed to sigh in relief and softened with words offered up in apology as a grace-covered sparkler of hope.
Before long, low chatter and music were floating out the windows and trailing behind us again.
And just like that, we got a fresh start inside the same minute we had mangled.
My car knew the way and I let it take over while I chased after other thoughts. All the good things like rooted joy, deep forgiveness, a faith tested true, or relationships with any real skin on them could all be stripped down to the basic DNA of a thousand new beginnings…and I marveled that it was so simple.
As I began to do that thing and number all the ways I muck it up so easily, I reminded myself, gentler this time:
It would be necessary as oxygen to always begin again with myself. This thought all by itself made my next breath seem a little easier.
‘Always we begin again.’ I said this softly, holding it a little wonderingly, like a new baby.
‘What, Mom?’
Reaching over to pat sister’s leg, I say, ‘Nothing, sweet girl.’
We finished the commute as it should have started and just about as soon as the last kid tumbleweeded out of the car and into his school, I headed back to the first one to pick up this morning’s picky eater I had chewed over with a fairly stern lecture mostly about world hunger.
The nurse had called to say she had a tummy bug.
It would turn out to be a day full of beginnings.
We gave in each time.
And each time it was a gift.

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