I woke up this morning and found this note posted on the fridge:
Greetings: this is Greta’s future self. I would like to tell you something VERY IMPORTANT. Tomorrow at 3 p.m. a strange-looking bird will land on your car. DO NOT look it in the eye because it is a robot from the island P.L.O.C. I cannot tell you what that means for you will soon find out. Follow the bird to the nearest gas station. I will be waiting there for you. GODSPEED.
We blamed Greta at first, but after insistent denials, we concluded that it was Shaene, who apparently leaves little notes like this all over the place. It’s a pretty good premise. In my head, I immediately started writing the story from the prompt.
Shaene is the Greta counterpart of the SJ clan. Paul’s best friend, Jason, is married to my best friend, Robin, and they have Elsa’s best friend, Aine, Greta’s best friend, Shaene, and Dagne’s best friend, Norah. Ingrid enjoys all of them. While we visited the valley for a family reunion, Jason stopped by and fixed Paul’s truck for him, including the broken handle on the door, and took a beer from the fridge as payment. Shaene must have left the note then.
Tomorrow night, we all have plans to hack the Ray LaMontagne and Brandi Carlile concert from a couple of canoes on the Deschutes river.
Much of who we are as a family is a result of using the SJs as a springboard for dreamlining ideas, honing them over long discussions and multiple bottles of wine. Staying true to ourselves may not have been possible without them reminding us of who we truly are.
Back to Shaene. She and Greta are our intuitive ones. They seem to have some spiritual connection to the prophetic future that no one else has.
We always waited to find out the gender of our babies. When I had our fourth girl, the first words that five-year-old Greta uttered were:
I knew it!
Elsa was betting on a boy. Plenty of others were too.
It was she who comforted me when our nephew, Bo, was born far too early and much too little:
“He’s going to be okay, Mom.”
From then on, I knew he was. He turned a year old in March.
It was Shaene who assured her mother:
“The Harris’ aren’t moving to North Carolina.”
The other day, I enrolled Elsa in Redmond Proficiency Academy and picked up Greta at a party in Powell Butte. As I wound down the familiar grade into Prineville, a strange feeling of fate or predestination came over me — a realization that life is not a single path but a forest of lives growing in relation to each other.
Here we were, back in the desert. We had gone through all the pain of leaving, only to return.
“Girls, did you pray that we wouldn’t leave Central Oregon?”
I glanced back at them sternly.
There were murmurings of confessions. Elsa said her prayers had a caveat: “I told God what I wanted, but said I’d try and be happy anywhere.”
Greta said, “I prayed to go to Portland, but once we were there, I prayed to go back.”
Later, I stopped by Robin’s and Jason’s music studio. Shaene was there. After hugs and a quick conversation transpired, it was time to go. As I got into the car, I hollered back at Shaene, “Did you pray that we wouldn’t leave Central Oregon?”
She hollered back, “Kind of … yeah.”
I’ve said this before, but I’ve been praying the Lord’s prayer quite a bit, lately. I keep thinking that I shouldn’t try to better genius with my own paltry attempts. Sometimes, I’ll forget and launch into all my personal agendas, my requests, my worries, my preoccupations.
But the first words in Jesus’ prayer are … Our Father. It immediately puts me in the proper place of a family, a community, a county, a country, a world. If I focus on those two words, my prayer changes. I recognize I’m not the only thread in the tapestry.
When Elsa was in Italy, she became overwhelmed with the other languages, the other ways of living, the different foods, the variety of places and people to see and said,
“I’m just a little girl from Prineville.”
I think she was feeling the vastness of the world, the layers of lives, the generations, the cultures, the languages, the abandonment of the tower of Babel.
And while winding down the grade into Prineville it dawned on me that God was probably listening to the whispered prayers and wishful thoughts of my little girls and the SJs little girls and everyone who was praying for us.
And for every yes there is a no to another.
On the blog’s comments, my sister Elida admitted she was selfishly praying for us to stay. And Paul’s sister Anne confessed she was selfishly praying we would come. I was selfishly praying for security … anywhere. Greta was praying to go, then changing her mind, and praying to return.
I love that scene in Bruce Almighty when he gets to play God for awhile. He checks his email and finds his inbox full of requests. Then, in a fit of lazy goodwill, he checks “yes” to all of them and worldwide chaos ensues.
Usually, when I pray, I’m saying:
Take care of my thread. Don’t drop me or my family.
I picture the three blind fates, the ugly old bats, with their overly large scissors, cutting the threads of life and I fear.
So I pray.
And so does everyone else.
But if I pray
Our Father …
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
follows. That bigger agenda of a heaven on earth makes my personal agenda bend its knee.
This morning, I looked at Greta. She had one sock on, just like she used to. There was a huge ball of something inside the toe — like another sock inside the one she was wearing. She’s always been so random, unpredictable, quirky. But lately, she’s been a lost soul, quick to cry, and prone to sigh. My nephew’s gecko just died. You can’t spray hairspray or Febreeze or anything around these creatures, because their skin will take it in and harm them. I think Greta is like a gecko. She is sensitive to environmental conditions.
But today, she looked herself again, reading her note from her future self with her one sock on and a huge ball of something stuck inside it.
And I felt a moment of supreme satisfaction as Paul flipped pancakes onto the plates in someone else’s house. God’s will is being done right now, right here. I guess we’re supposed to just recognize it.