Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Expectations and Reality

Making the House Ready for the Lord | Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver makes it simple, true and easy. My comments follow.

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice—it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

© Mary Oliver 2006
Published by Beacon Press in Thirst, p. 13

Yesterday I was bemoaning wisps of cat hair floating in every corner; cardboard boxes piled high, waiting for old give-away books; kitchen gadgets and pots looking for a new home or sitting in the sink waiting to be cleaned.

Not that I expect the Lord to visit–though that isn’t an impossibility. This is about regular people who come to our door unannounced. Why shouldn’t things be neat and tidy? After all, I’m retired, and have all the time in the world to keep up appearances!

Mary Oliver’s poem makes me laugh at myself. I’m not a collector of vagabond mice, squirrels or lost dogs. However, for years I’ve collected books, kitchen gadgets and small bits and pieces of arty stuff. Which collects its own stuff called dust.

Unannounced visitors put me to the test. Am I ready to receive the Lord? Maybe this is stretching it, but if I’m not ready to receive the Lord just as I am, I’m probably not consciously ready to receive anyone just as I am.

Even so, truth be told, I’m always ready, whether I think I am or not. In fact, when the Lord or any one of you arrives and comes into my house, it will be ready. Living proof of my priorities, my weaknesses, my loves, my memories and my hopes. All of me. What more could you, or the Lord, ask for?


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 November 2019
Photo by JSLeesPhotography found at
Red Fox, Alonquin, Canada

Faculty Wife | Part 6

1970 May Newly Arrived Sherry in the hospital

It’s late May 1970. I’m sitting on the edge of the bathtub, giving Son a bath before he goes to bed. The house is full of my family members, including my parents. They drove up from Savannah to attend Diane’s commencement.

We just finished an early supper. Mom and Sister #2 are cleaning up the table and kitchen. Tonight is Diane’s baccalaureate service, and D is leaving early to be part of the faculty processional.

He comes into the bathroom to tell Son and me goodbye. He’s all dressed up, carrying his robe. I feel a little left out of the fun. He gives us goodbye kisses.

I hear D going out the front door. Suddenly I feel something. Surely it was just another false contraction. They’re the pits! Besides, I’m in no position to go into labor right now.

My water breaks. No doubt about it. I’m still sitting on the edge of the bathtub. I holler for someone to stop D! Sister #2 races out the front door and catches D just as he’s backing out of the driveway.

It doesn’t take long to figure out I need to get to the hospital pronto. D and Sister #2 help me get to the car. I stuff a towel under my seat and D drives straight to the hospital. The time between contractions is frightfully short.

Things have changed since our son was born. In South Carolina, husbands are now allowed in labor rooms. There’s one small requirement. The husband and his pregnant beloved must have a certificate showing they successfully completed a Lamaze course for couples. We have the certificate! We’re ready!

1968 Pre-Natal Classes_getty

We were expecting something like this. . . .

When we get to the Baptist Hospital, they take me via wheelchair, with D this time, to a labor room. It’s small and private. Just a table for me to lie on, a chair for D, and a button to push if we need help. The nurse assigned to monitor me has an abrupt, take-charge, no-nonsense manner and a voice to match. My heart sinks. I’m glad D is with me.

Nurse immediately checks to see how far along I am, while telling me to stop complaining so much! When I hear how far along I am, I ask for a pain-reliever. The same kind I had when our son was born. It’s important not to wait too long, or it won’t be very effective.

Nurse is reluctant to give me anything. This is nothing! I’m not nearly ready to give birth! I insist. Firmly. Where I found the strength to talk back to her is beyond me. I’m sure I said things I might regret if I remembered them. But I don’t.

I do remember, however, that she told me to stop being such a sissy. Then she begrudgingly gave me the pain reliever. Her better idea was to put me out completely right before I gave birth. No way! I wanted to be awake for this event, and relatively pain-free. Is that too much to ask for?

Unfortunately, after giving me the painkiller, there was no time for D to help me breathe, much less relax between contractions. Only 5 or 10 minutes max after getting to the labor room another nurse came to check and immediately took me to the delivery room. No overhead mirror this time so I could watch what was happening. It didn’t take long for our beautiful daughter to arrive, only 1 ½ hours after my water broke.

D felt disappointed and deprived of his role as my coach. So did I. He also loves to remind me of all that time he spent in those training classes, learning to time my contractions, help me breathe and get comfortable, etc., etc., and all for Nothing!

Still, nothing takes the place of how happy we are that we now have a daughter and a son! Here we are, soon after delivery, looking at our new daughter through the nursery window.

1970 May the New Parents seeing Sherry in the baby ward

We don’t have a clue how much life just changed.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 August 2015
Photo credits: DAFraser (top photo), Getty Images from (prenatal class in England 1968), Unknown (bottom photo)

Early Marriage | Part 1

1963 Aug Elouise Double Exposure flippedTybee Island, August 1963,
two years before our wedding

Do I really want to write about this? Yes, I do! I’m ready to try sorting out what sometimes seemed bizarre. That would be our first year of marriage, 1965-66, especially as it impacted me.

Here’s how I see it. Read the rest of this entry »

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