That and we have a lot of stuff. More than I imagined. Much more.
As for the pace of life, here let me offer you two snapshots: Chaotic Week A and Chaotic Week B. Beginning with Chaotic Week A, we faced:
And then we moved on to Chaotic Week B which offered:
- Final move out of the old house.
- Jury duty.
- Closing on old house.
- Spirit Week at school.
Really, I just think there should be a basic law of nature -- just as immutable, as predicable as the laws of gravity -- that ensures no family comes down with the stomach bug while any remnant of an ungraded science fair project remains under the roof. If there's so much as a bar chart lying idle on the printer, a glue stick yet to put away, the agent of misery and mayhem aught to pass right over.
- Stomach Bug, Part I (which erupted 24 hours before the arrival of the new washer.)
- John and yet another fever episode.
- The Science Fair.
- Stomach Bug, Part II (which erupted 24 hours before the arrival of the new dryer.)
And Spirit Week and jury duty in the same week? No. Just no.
This was my first go at jury duty. During Voir Dire (yes, I know I've just impressed you with my vast knowledge of law), the judge asked potential jurors if anyone had pressing business matters to attend to. One woman behind me told the sad, sad tale of a house fire that had broken out just days before. She was busy sifting through the rubble, dealing with her insurance company.
She was on the jury.
After that, I didn't have the gumption to haltingly raise my hand and say, "Your Honor, ummmm, it's Spirit Week at my kids' school . . . " This judge could not have been nicer, but I'm guessing she was wholly uninterested in just how daunting a task it is to unfit four kids for Hero Day or deck out the whole clan in red, white, and gold. If a house fire didn't cut the mustard, Spirit Week wouldn't either. I kept my mouth shut.
It was DUI case, and when the attorneys asked if anyone had been a victim of a DUI, I did my best Arnold Horseshack imitation with arm raised high saying Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! Me!
So I was on the jury. My main goal was to fly under the radar, say as little as possible, and do whatever I could to avoid being foreman of the jury. We couldn't decide on a foreman -- in retrospect, this was a telling bit of foreshadowing -- so we drew names. What can I say? Should have played the lottery. It was my lucky week.
Now six people who can't agree on a foreman aren't likely to agree on a verdict. Dedicated foreman that I was, I penned a polite missive to Her Honor, The Judge, stating that we were a hung jury to which she more or less replied that's nice, get unhung.
Easier said than done. We talked and talked and talked and reviewed video and testimony and talked some more, and essentially no one was giving an inch.
Meanwhile, I was only half-way listening to our deliberations because the hour was getting late, and I was expected on the other end of town for the closing. The closing had been pushed back to 5:00, and everyone involved knew I might be late. The judge said we'd stop proceedings at 4:45, but the wheels of justice do indeed turn slowly, and it was 5:20 when she excused me.
I sprinted to my car and pulled onto a street that had the longest light in the city of Augusta. My lane would get a green light just long enough for a single car to turn left. A. single. car. Everyone would inch forward, and the light would turn red for another interminable wait.
I was quickly becoming unhinged.
About the house closing.
About the hung jury.
About the fact that the case was supposed to wrap up on Wednesday but now was headed into Thursday.
About the house full of boxes.
And the kids and their costumes.
And the washer and dryer we had yet to order.
About 101 issues -- the serious and the trivial -- swirling around in my head as I sat in gridlock praying, fretting, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel.
For about the twentieth time in two weeks, I thought to myself, "I'm cracking. I'm cracking. I'm cracking."
I had texted that very message to a friend a few days earlier as we finished the packing and moving. As we hunted through box after box trying to find this or that missing item. As our internet access faded in and out and the kids couldn't finish homework and we waited six! blinking! hours! for the Comcast guy who no-showed. As the fish pond out back worked and then didn't work and then kinda worked and then we spotted the fish at the surface, and they seemed to be gasping for breath.
I began to feel that I was gasping for breath.
And there I was w-a-y late for the closing and traffic was at a stand still and the jury was hung, and we would be headed back to the courthouse for another round of deliberations.
Cracking. Cracking. Cracking.
As I sat at the endless light, two startling thoughts came to me rather suddenly. First: If you say you're cracking often enough, you just might do it. And second: There is nothing you can do about most of this.
I couldn't unsnarl the traffic. I couldn't bring about agreement among the jury.
And it was suddenly okay. Totally and completely and supernaturally not just okay, but good, really.
I went from absolutely frazzled to perfectly calm in an instant.
I was forty-five minutes late for the closing. They saved me a pen and a huge stack of papers. We went home to our mostly unpacked house and sorted out the costumes for the next installment of Spirit Week. I picked out clothes suitable for court.
The following morning the phone rang at 7:15. It was the courthouse. The defendant had pleaded after I left the courtroom. The kind woman on the phone thanked me for my service and told me my check would be forthcoming.
I did the happy dance.
The following week was Science Fair Meets Stomach Bug. Rather gruesome as these things go. Seventy-five percent of my children were hit hard. And, yes, the bug arrived the day before the new washer and three days before the dryer. Yippee!
But we survived.
I am not cracking. True, I may never move again. But I am not cracking.
Life has its share of traffic jams and hung juries -- both real and metaphorical ones. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we can't change most of them. God is on the throne, so it's probably just fine for us to step down.
I have often reflected that hope is an action verb, not a noun. We think of hope as something we "have", but it's really something we do. For me, this usually involves a conscious decision to dwell on what is good and true and of good report.