We are back from a magnificent week in a picture-perfect cottage on the coast of Maine, and I am in a torpid muddle of conflicting emotions: relief at being reunited with the cats, despair at a fresh perspective on the house's vast undone-ness (it was shedding big plaster flakes in the Brooklyn humidity upon our return, and the Squirrel Barricade in the roof/ceiling hole had fallen away...), and a raw hunger for the natural beauty we left behind. Add in the dull, creeping dread that returns as I grapple with a return to fiscal reality; this vacation represented the last blessed cupful of a life-giving draught that issued from my late uncle's estate, and now that the final drops have been drained (having also rescued us from the Dead Appliance Trifecta and the New Car Cash-Suck), and you have a major case of Back Home Broke Blues...which can be no laughing matter if you have a history of depressive episodes in the dog days of August.
Which is why I was happily unnerved when I pried myself away from a game of Freecell to Sacred Space, a prayer site run by the Irish Jesuits. Lest that sound too...Jesuitical, here is their opening "something to think and pray about this week" for today, August 1:
"We all know about families. There is a variety of kinds of family and each of us has had a mix of good and bad experiences. The clearest family portrait in the Gospel is of a father (and Jesus is talking about God) who was made a fool of, a young son who went prodigal and squandered the family fortune and reputation, and an older son who was so jealous of his kid brother that he would not attend the homecoming party. God knows about troubled families. They are nothing out of the ordinary. We may have a dream of an ideal family with lively, intelligent, obedient children who line up with their parents for church on Sunday, pass their exams, compete in community sports, and visit their granny. Perhaps we need to move away from such rosy pictures. There is no such thing as perfect parents, or perfect children. God is not the presenter of prizes at a high-powered graduation, but the one who helps us to recognise our need of help and to accept our blessings."
Just wanted to share that with you. Their Scripture reading for today is about the man who found a treasure hidden in a field and "sold all he had" to buy the field. Our week together at Acadia National Park was such a treasure, even if we'll never be a perfect family, fiscally or any other way, and it was worth it in the deepest sense of "worth," even if the roof is still unpatched and the shingles unpainted. I'm mixing my gospel metaphors here--the Prodigal Son merely squandered his fortune--but then, I said I was muddled. But I am home, and trying to figure it out. More soon--including a spectacular archiblogging tour of Cambridge, Massachusetts and other distractions from our flaky domicile. Meanwhile, many thanks to the noble piper of The Inn at the End of the World for having tagged me with the "Thinking Blogger Award"...I will attempt to rise to the bait with a thought-provoking quintet of my own if the heat doesn't fry my brain past all thought in the meantime!
Image: Rembrandt, The Prodigal Son