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Excitement buzzed outside my window this morning. It was Independence Day, its spirit given expression by masked neighbors standing around the lemonade stand. Upon it sat the blue cooler, cups, and the moneybox. No matter the oppressive heat and humidity. Soon to be eight-year-old Sloane, her brunette hair in a topknot, had initiated this gathering, supported by her parents, and it was well underway when I picked up their hilarity. Her brother Clark, barefoot and looking taller since last month, helped dispense the lemonade to the thirsty.

Toddlers milled circles around grandparents, hugged their thighs, then took off again; a dad sat in a folding chair stroking the tanned back of his daughter; Sloane made a sign affixed to a pole for passing motorists; a T-shirted mother pushed a stroller with her newborn, another curly-haired toddler at her side; other kids, in helmets, on scooters, stopped by—a whirligig of animation.

Covid threat or not, nothing could damper my neighbors’ enthusiasm. From behind colorful masks, laughter lifted spirits, released tension, deepened camaraderie—a much-needed tonic to ward off the pervading gloom.

It will pass, in time…

A special energy pulsates through this Court, a womb, of sorts, for new life, a veritable playground for the spirited and young of heart.

Seasons of waxing and waning follow my neighbors’ life paths: toddlers in strollers, discovering toes; little ones with pastel backpacks and lunch pails, walking to the nearby elementary school; older ones carpooling to middle and high schools; suited men and women leaving the Court for work, then returning; travelers cruising in distant waters; grandparents sharing wisdom and smiles. And their dogs: Bernie, Charlie, Chiggers, Daisy, and Silver. And the October pot-luck, enjoyed since 1973, still draws everyone, as well as other impromptu gatherings around the holidays.

But this spring, still more life flourished on the Court; two swollen bellies, newly pregnant, caught the attentive love of everyone. On June 22, 2012, Luke was born, eight pounds and some ounces. Two evenings later, wrapped in a receiving blanket, his eyes seamed closed, his cheery cheeks sensitive to the breezes, Luke received our gladness. His father beamed. And there’s still another baby to come, a daughter, within three weeks.

Childless, myself, I am surrounded by caring parents, by their love-worlds, never flinching from daily sacrifices enhancing the continuous growth of their children. Others, more seasoned, absorb the distress of aging with no complaints. They teach me much.

But there are other ways of mothering. Artist, mystic Meinrad Craighead speaks of giving birth in the womb of the imagination in her 1984 illustrated book, The Mother’s Songs – Images of God the Mother. Her life-long practice of deep listening continues evoking sacred images, rendered in charcoals, bold paints; images filled with struggle, with reconciliation, with surprise, that fuel our thirst to penetrate the mysteries that surround us. The cultivation of dreams also opens this portal.

Thus Precious God continues manifesting among us in multiple wombs, ever fresh with new life.


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