My parents celebrate their fifty-eighth wedding anniversary on Tuesday, and my mom turns 80 the next day. I am so very thankful for their lives, love, and witness! And I miss them so much.
I wanted to honor them with handmade cards (something I enjoy doing, and they enjoy receiving) but this past week was, to put it mildly, overwhelmingly stressful. Despite the beautiful and sudden springlike weather (I am still reeling that western PA can begin to bud and flower in mid-March) I was having a week where circumstances seemed determined to squash me. I spent a lot of the week just trying to scramble up on top of the mountain, determined to not let that happen -- and trying to remember to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, keeping being thankful, keep praying.
It was the kind of week that found me scribbling notes to myself like this one: "Love God. Value truth. Keep a thankful heart." Or murmuring the missionary credo of Amy Carmichael, one that has held me in good stead for years, "Guard against depression. Bear evenly with all that is uneven. Never be shocked out of loving."
Be all that as it may, it didn't leave much room for creative energies. The drawing I'd been working on for my mother's birthday was clearly not going to get finished. I was determined to at least get the anniversary card in the mail today though, so I ended up revising and revamping my ideas.
The mid-point of the drawing -- a vase of flowers in a larger still-life sketch -- was essentially done. So I made a copy of it on the copier and then cut it out, following the natural shape of the flowers in the vase.
Then I planned to choose a colorful or patterned background and glue it all to a cardstock greeting card. Couldn't find those, so had to go with smaller cardstock pieces. They weren't large enough to make the background I wanted, so I glued two together. I decided on two different colors to give the background a two-toned look.
Then I glued the vase of flowers onto the cardstock and decided to trim the cardstock background in the same similar contours, so it would be a shaped card.
Then I had to pilfer a box of bought notecards (I wrote "boughten" first, but apparently that's too old-fashioned for my spell-checker) for an envelope. It appeared to be large enough until I slid the card in, and then I realized the top part of the card ran over the allotted space by about a quarter inch. I debated trimming it, then ended up making the tiniest of folds. My parents will notice and no doubt smile. They know me well.
Then I glued an anniversary message, printed in a colored script font, on the back of the card, and had the whole family sign it.
It ended up looking not at all like I'd originally imagined or planned, and it was far from perfect -- but somehow, that felt just like life. And maybe appropriate in celebration of a marriage that has weathered 58 years with grace.
Sometimes this happens in our creative lives, and in our lives period. We envision something. We try it and it doesn't work, so we envision something else. A lot of life is learning to improvise, to trim to fit, to change the direction of a fold, to compromise with our original thoughts and plans, to...well...make do. And in making do, we sometimes discover grace for ourselves and for those we love.
St. Patrick certainly learned that lesson. When his life took a turn he could not possibly expect, he discovered a new way of living. It changed his heart, his own life, and ultimately the life of Ireland and the world. May we all live with that kind of hope and creative daring in the face of whatever we discover ourselves facing. Most of all, may we keep listening to God's voice in the midst of all our "making do."