(this is the view out the front of our house, the old garage I’m writing about is out back)

My oldest son runs shouting into the house,
eyes round like dinner plates. 
“We found an
opening that leads underground!” he exclaims
and I picture a doorway leading to another world.

“Where?” I

“In the last
garage, it’s creepy in there!  We found a
pipe and when you put your hand inside it feels cool.”  Breathless, he turns and runs out of the house,
headed back to the garage.

The older
two are exploring, rooting through the yard
and garage for lost bits of treasure that they plan to display in a museum of their own making.  Admission is rumored to be set at twenty-five cents.  I’m cleaning
in the house, trying to make some order out of chaos when they run in again,
one just a few steps behind the other.   

found bones!” they cry, their voices conveying the combined excitement and
creepiness of the discovery. 

“Where?” I
ask, again.

“In the
furnace!” they shout.

I follow
them this time, out across the lawn and driveway, into the cool, dark cave of the last garage.  My son pulls the skeleton of some small animal
out of an old brick oven.   

After close examination, he declares it to be the remains of a baby bird and it isn’t long
before they find a whole nest of skeletons, the mama and several babies.  Based on their location, I imagine they may be rats rather than birds, but given my reluctance to examine the remains, I let my son’s conclusion stand.   

They wash
the bones in a plastic storage bin and leave them to dry in the sun.


I returned
yesterday from a weekend-long writer’s retreat at God’s Whisper Farm
I wrote while I was there, just a little, listened to the music of a fine musician,
and thought about the place of writing in my life.  Before returning home I set a modest writing

But then I
returned to swirling chaos of family life and
because I stepped away for a time, I’m now feeling very behind – behind in the laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping, sleep and, ironically enough, behind in my writing.  Now even the small goal I set feels like a millstone hung around the neck of a woman already drowning.


“We found an
opening . . .” he said, and I realize that’s what I’m looking for too, some way
in and through this crazy sinking mess, an avenue to something more life-giving than simply managing the chaos.  I want a way
to excavate my life, a way of reaching through to a place of earthy
coolness and what strikes me as my children root through the old furnace’s
ashes is that this is what writing is for me.

Writing is
digging under, inside-of, behind the surface of things; writing uproots the
skeletal remains of what was, re-imagining its place in the wider scope of
things. Writing is the cool water that washes off the bones of the daily, revealing the very structure of life as I lay it all out here on the page to dry.


By lunch
time I’ve managed to mop the kitchen floor – a feat which has not been
performed here for a month or more.  The kids
are filthy from ashes and soot, their feet stained black from rummaging in the old

Mindful of my now-clean floors, I fill
another bin with soapy water and gather them all around me at the back
step.  They sit there while I wash their
feet, one set at a time.  Lunch is buttered noodles
and left-over hot dogs, not a vegetable in sight, and then it’s time for quiet
time.  Off to their rooms they go,
clean-footed, to build with Legos.

In the
silence, in the space made by their absence I remember, there is an opening
that leads
, and I open the lap top and begin to write, feeling the coolness of
what lies beneath as it spreads across the page.     

This post is linked with Playdates with God and Unforced Rhythms.

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