|The Village at Twilight|
Our cook quit abruptly a few weeks ago, and we figured out that our Pavilion kitchen had been suffering from...shall we say, a lack of stewardship...for some time, so I'm handling all the food ordering, shopping, menu creating, and consequent flack-catching for the Ranch for the next several weeks.
Marci has mostly been wrangling the kitchen crew, and I've been trying to use up inventory (what, cod again!?) prior to getting things under a little more coherent management.
The work is hard--not just for a 70-year old, but for anybody--and the days are long! Most nights I go to bed with a sore back and wake up long before dawn. We're talking 13-hour days here.
Yesterday was particularly tough, since we had to get ready for a retreat group coming in, and the Ranchers were going to go to Special Olympics swimming competitions today, so I stayed late making sandwiches and getting the lunch ready for the Saturday outing.
Then I mopped the floor six times in a row until I could finally get semi-clear rinse water. The San Jose people showed up, and Jerry and I raced around getting the lights on and such.
People often say to me, "Oh my gosh, you must have such a sense of pride and fulfillment whenever you look around this place."
The truth is just the opposite.
Wherever I look I see things that need fixing, watering, painting, finishing, cleaning...
It reminds me of funeral services I've attended for children with special needs, and I've attended more than a few.
The moms stand brokenhearted before the assembly and confess that they never, ever, not for one day, felt they ever did enough for their child with disabilities.
However much they did, and they performed heroic feats, year after year, after year...still, they were always exhorting themselves to do more. Surely one more half hour of speech therapy per week, one more enrichment class, one more hour of homework supervision and help would make all the difference in their child's life.
But after all was said and done, the kid still had Down syndrome, and given basically decent parenting, one turned out much like another.
Which is a good thing.
Because recent studies indicate that families with children with Down syndrome are among the happiest familiest around--even laying the disability issue aside. That's because our kids are generally fun-loving and emotionally generous (to put it mildly).
And what do they NOT do? Well, when they consider the world, they tend not to fixate on what needs fixing, cleaning, watering, or finishing. They take the world on its own terms and, when in doubt, have a party!
None of which has anything to do with what happened last night, which was that Jerry and I, tearing around fixing this and adjusting that, stopped for a breathtaking moment and looked around the Ranch and really saw it the way it deserves to be seen.
The sun was well below the horizon. The sky was a dusk rose in the west, and the barn caught the last rays of light.
The lanterns had come on, and the yellow light shone from the houses in the Village.
The Pavilion shone forth, and inside we could see the young Hispanic adults on retreat assembled in fellowship.
And I had a deep, welcome sense for just a few minutes that all the striving, all the worry, all the endless toil over the past 20 years has been worth it after all.
It was a blessed moment, and I know it will soon pass, but it lingers with me today.
And I am grateful beyond measure.