Xander's in the kitchen with Diane. Say it slow, sing it with quiet enthusiasm. Every Saturday morning Xander helps his Oma make a fresh loaf of bread, adding ingredients, pushing buttons, watching the bread go through its stages, and of course, sampling the finished product once it had sufficiently cooled. Sometimes he would have it with butter, others with a wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese. It seems like such a small thing to enter your week, but it is one of those warm and fuzzy life-affirming events that stay in your mind, and your heart.
These days I need every life-affirming event I can grab. When you balance off the disappointments of life with the joys, the fears with the hopes, it seems like the disappointments and the fears are actually grander in size but the joys and the hopes always win out because they also contain one more element, grace.
The past two days were filled with grace. And you can interpret my choice of that word any way that suits your own pursuit of happiness. Remember only that I am non-denominational.
Friday afternoon we took Xander down to the swimming area on the lake, another simple thing we had done before. This time, though, we remembered to bring his shovel and bucket, and after a while in the water he wanted to play in the "sand." I put sand in quotes because the sand on Flathead Lake is mostly small pebbles and stones. Anyway, while he played on the shore under his Oma's watchful eye, I went for a swim in the lake. It has been literally decades since I actually swam and it felt so good, between the refreshing temperature of the water on the hot afternoon, and the memory of how much I love to swim.
I used to be good at it. Not competitive, but more than competent. And who knows -- if I had been steered and groomed when I was young maybe I would have competed at least in school events. But sports were never considered important in the Blokker household and I never tried.
I also never wanted to fail; the only guarantee for that is to stay in your seat.
But Friday I swam. It was liberating. Brief, because my body was not very used to that type of exercise, and I forgot that breathing was different in the water, but bloody fantastic.
Saturday we joined Xander's parents and his other set of grandparents and a friend on Frank and Claire Marie's boat. We cruised the lake along the north shore, then stopped several hundred yards offshore from Somers. Nik jumped into the lake. Xander followed his daddy, wearing his lifejacket. Frank took a dive into the water to cool off, and then I went in -- and swam. The water felt so good and the exercise felt life-affirming. There goes that word again! After fifteen or twenty minutes, we towelled off and went up the Flathead River for several miles before heading to the Cay at Big Fork where, of all things, we used their pool. For over an hour. In 36 hours I had spent more time in the water than in the thirty years preceeding.
Today I'm a bit worn out, but so very content. Not even another bout with our ancient freezer when we got home last night could dampen my spirits or chill my enthusiasm.
That, my friends, by any definition, is grace.