Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August Wishes



Every year it happens, summer arrives with much anticipation in our hearts; then we find ourselves in the midst of the end of August.  Summer’s intense light and heat have faded a bit; the birds have quieted and all their young have left the nest.  Even the cicadas sing with a different pitch, quieter, less feverish. 

We are building a new school year in our minds, with new beginning of school aspirations.  For me, these are: my boys will walk to school each day (no more driving them); they will make their lunches the night before and pack veggies and fruits to match their carb-loaded snacks; and we will keep the electronics and television off during the school week so homework will be done before dinner enabling us all to get a good night’s sleep. These are my wishes; we will see.

I am sitting outside on this lovely cool August Sunday morning writing and wishing and contemplating this upcoming school year.  My oldest is preparing to enter his freshman year of high school; my youngest is making his way to Middle School.  Big changes mixed with a bit of trepidation on this mom’s part. 

We had spent our 2nd annual summer vacation at a Family Camp at Karmê Chöling Shambhala Meditation Center in Northeastern Vermont.  The highlights of our journey are etched more in our mindset and the sense of relaxation that we carry forward with us in our lives.  This annual experience of taking time out to be together without the distraction of electronics and cell phones and to simply celebrate our existence in our natural world is a memory that we carry throughout the year.  There is truly something magical about camping with 200 other moms and dads and their children outdoors in all kinds of weather for eight nights.  Eating outdoors, camping in tents in a high meadow, meditating together, walking in the forest in quiet contemplation of our unique presence and connection on earth, being tested by the elements, smiling cheerfully, sharing chores together, forming lifetime friendships and saying goodbye through tears and laughter.

I courageously drive over thousand miles to Vermont, then points further east to Maine to visit friends and the North Atlantic ocean with my sons.  It is an alchemical blend of relaxing, exhausting, surrendering, eye opening and touching to experience all this with my children.  Having spent the better part of my last twenty years in a marriage, then a long term relationship after my divorce, I am single again, co-parenting two young dynamic men.  I am really fine but on a walk alone yesterday at Knox State Farm while my boys sat and read their required summer reading in the car, I contemplated what my next relationship might look like.

It looks like this – holding hands along a walking path, picnicking on a Sunday afternoon, laying back in the grass and together watching the clouds drift in the summer sky, dancing closely to a quiet love song in the dining room.  It looks quiet and steady.  It feels authentic and honest.  I must say the craze that came over our country recently with the Fifty Shades of Gray book (which I have not read and have no desire to) cemented my view of what is important to me in a future loving relationship.  How about an old fashioned, slower, more patient love?  How about courtship and civility?  I would rather read a classic novel any day; Jane Austen, Willa Cather, or Leo Tolstoy are all welcome to keep me company through the upcoming fall and long winter nights.  They offer enough love and decency and imagination for a lifetime that is bursting and full. 

And I say enough of all that quick rather unfulfilling texting and emailing!  Does anyone remember the joy in receiving a notecard penned and signed by a friend or love?  After a dinner party this summer, I received a lovely handwritten thank you note from a friend.  This is a fine testament to the values of humanity and good manners that I cherish.  All of this a true counterpoint to the fast paced, fifty shades of whatever culture. 

Just as I sit peacefully and contentedly here on my back patio this quiet Sunday morning writing an essay, with my sons off somewhere reading their summer books, and I sipping my coffee with cream, I know that this school year will be here in a flash but I intentionally decide to let love take its time for me and know that someday I will be looking up in that blue sky quietly amazed by cloud formations shaping and reshaping side by side with whomever he might be. 

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