Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Frederick Moments

Sunday afternoons at our house are sacred. After lazy naps for the older folks and an hour or two of reading and dolls for the younger folks, we gather in the living room for family time. For us, family time usually involves cards of some sort and a giant bowl of popcorn that empties all too quickly.

This weekend, while someone with a better hand than mine sorted through cards and determined strategy, I looked around at my family. My daughter, too young to effectively manage the strategy of bidding, chatted away happily with Grandma on the phone, recounting her first days of kindergarten. Coach Dad and the 11-year old discussed the previous day's surprise win over a rival football team and replayed my son's two fumble recoveries. Our lone teenager laughed at someone's silly joke, and we all joined in, unable to resist his contagious cheeriness. Hundreds of miles away in Texas, our missionary son enjoyed his first Sunday in the field. Mission experiences are the "coolest thing ever" he wrote in his weekly email. It was a Frederick moment, everyone happy and trouble far away.

I still have a copy of my favorite book from childhood. Leo Leonni tells the story of a chatty family of field mice preparing for winter. Four of the mice busily gather corn and nuts, while Frederick sits off by himself. When they chide him for not working, the quiet mouse says, "I do work. I gather sun rays...and colors...and words, for the winter days are long and many."

When the first snow begins to fall, the mice retreat cheerily to their home in the old stone wall. They eat corn and tell stories. But then the food begins to run out, and the cold drags on. "What about your supplies, Frederick?" they ask. Frederick speaks of the sun, and the mice begin to feel warmer. He speaks of colors, and they see them "as clearly as if they had been painted in their minds." Summer has found them.

Like any mother, I lie awake some nights, frozen at the thought of the horrible things that could happen to my children: kidnappings a la Elizabeth Smart, random accidents, a young child lost in the crowd, or the painful consequences of bad choices. Night terrors respond sluggishly to logic. But in the sanity of daylight I remind myself of Frederick and the power his supplies hold for my children.

Every golden hour of family laughter, each hug, the quiet moments when inspiration washes over the seeking mind, the tears of gratitude, story time with Dad and gloriously untidy choruses of "Sweet Violets"...all add up in the storage room of the heart. In times of emotional famine or the bitter winter of adversity, when I cannot reach out to hold my children in my arms, I have to trust that they can bring forth those colors and bask in the warmth of remembered joy and the surety of love.


  1. Wonderful post to reflect on again and again.
    Thanks for the reminder to "harvest sunshine" now.
    I need to do better on that.

    We just put mission papers in for Joshua!:-)

  2. Ive got to find this book. It sounds like what my Sarah does for me when I'm certainly the worker mouse. This post reminds me of all she has to offer. Thank you. I'm glad trouble is far from all your little mice. :)