Sometimes grace unfurls its wings and settles in the least deserving and unlikely of places. On any given morning at our breakfast table we feast on a buffet of whining, spilling, complaining, begging, belching, singing, scolding, story telling, scientific instruction, day planning and oh yes, food. Yesterday we were startled out of our small busy selves to delight in new life.
Michael had gone out to do the milking. (This doesn’t happen every morning, but our friend who usually milks is on vacation so for these weeks he is doing it.) I made baked oatmeal with last summer’s frozen blueberries that we are still enjoying until the ones on the bushes ripen. While breakfast baked, my eight and ten year olds sprawled on the couches and read while I tried to wash some dishes and unearth our kitchen table and counter from the layers of end of the school year papers. At breakfast time I insisted that they get dressed even though school is out. My eight year old daughter, Zora, came down dressed for a birthday party that would happen two days from then. I reminded her that if she wore those clothes now and they got dirty they wouldn’t be clean on Saturday. (We share 2 washing machines with 40 people -and one is broken now- and only line dry our clothes so just washing and drying whenever is not an option.) I try not to be too controlling about what the kids wear but, I have been trying to help the kids think about “town” clothes and “farm” clothes. I think I seemed more controlling than helpful. She kept on the sweet outfit but her mood had soured considerably.
We gathered around the table and I suggested that we sing a couple of songs like Bruderhoff families do in their homes at breakfast. Since Michael had milked and I’d made breakfast I felt very wholesome and “farmy.” Zora whined, “Why do we have to be like other families? Why can’t we just be like our family?” And I retorted, “Why can’t our family sing together before we eat?” At three year old Phoebe’s suggestion we sang, “This Little Light of Mine.” Phoebe, sang beautifully while Zora buried her head in her arms, big brother, Malachi sang and mocked her while five year old Seraphina was still in her room getting dressed (we’ve learned not to rush her). Malachi suggested “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir.” We started to sing but Phoebe broke into hysterics while Zora still pouted. I sighed, “Maybe one song is enough for today.”
Zora and Seraphina had Raisin Bran because my food looked awful. The rest of us enjoyed the baked oatmeal. Michael and I were drinking coffee and talking through the plans for the day when suddenly I gasped. There on the shelf behind the table was a butterfly! We had been expecting it but it still took my breath away. I brought the green caterpillar home on a sprig of parsley two weeks ago and put it in a glass trifle dish as our centerpiece. We delighted as it munched through leaves and pooped. Then we watched it get very still on its twig. One morning it was caterpillar the next chrysalis. After that it got a little boring. A dry stick in a glass dish full of caterpillar poop isn’t so attractive so I moved it off the table. The night before, I had notice that the chrysalis had turned black- a sign that a butterfly would emerge soon. But in all the bustle of getting four kids bedded down I forgot to mention it. It was only when we saw it gently opening and closing its new wings that we remembered that we had invited it in to our home.
I got the twig and held it at the table while we all watched it. Malachi reminded us of a caterpillar that we raised in Philadelphia. The butterfly ended up flying in our kitchen and its wings were damaged before it ever went outside. We were not going to repeat that tragedy. So, Michael grabbed the camera and we went outside and stuck the stick in a potted plant and watched it. Zora gently put out her finger for it to crawl onto then she let it back onto its twig. Michael snapped some shots and we all went back in. Not fully redeemed but in that twinkling moment turned one degree closer to glory.
We weren’t suddenly transformed into a new family. There are still books and papers on almost every horizontal surface. There are baskets full of dirty, folded and needing to be folded laundry. The sink is full of dishes. The kids still whine and fuss. But, the six of us got quiet enough for one moment to watch a butterfly and to delight together. We invited a stranger into our home and it blessed us beyond measure. I hope that is what they will remember when they are older.
Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries (modified from Simply in Season)
Preheat oven to 350F
2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking powder
In a 4 cup measuring cup (so that you don’t have to dirty up a bowl) whisk together:
one cup of milk
Add ½ cup of applesauce
2 T of oil
1 beaten egg
Pour over oat mixture. ( I had about a cup of leftover cooked oatmeal that I added at this point too) Mix well. Stir in 1-2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
Pour into a greased 8 inch square pan. Bake 25 or so (I think I baked it longer maybe 45 minutes because the leftover oatmeal made it mushier).
Serve warm with milk. (offer dry cereal to your picky eaters)