I was sitting comfortably with the baby on my lap when Marie came in with an announcement: "Maureen and I are having a puppet show upstairs, and it is about to begin! Come see it, Mom!"
Now, when it comes to our children's shows and skits, there is a tri-fold law that must never be broken:
1. The stage needs to be set in the farthest reaches of the house, usually up or down a flight of stairs;
2. The show must begin precisely when I least feel like walking up or down the flight of stairs; and [this next point is crucial]
3. The proceedings cannot take place without Mommy in attendance, sitting front and center.
I tried buying myself a bit of time, saying "later, honey" and "in a few minutes" and "don't you two need more time to rehearse?" But Marie won me over with persistence, begging, and, as a last resort, that certain pouty look she has managed to retain from babyhood.
Little Eileen was weighing heavily on my hip as I started the slow ascent up the stairs. The effort was already beginning to pay off though--I laughed outright to find the staircase lined with homely signs scrawled in pen: "Puppet Show this way [arrow pointing up]"; "Maureen and Marie's Puppet Show"; "We hope you injoy the show!" Marie had managed to assemble all the children for an audience--even the busy older girls.
The curtain rose to reveal a china doll and stuffed lamb. From behind a chair, Maureen's thin voice rose, "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb." It was simple and sweet . . . but extremely beautiful in its ordinary way, particularly because it was taking place in an uncluttered, painted corner of the house. I leaned over and whispered to Theresa, sending her off to retrieve my camera. She returned a moment or so later, and I snapped the photos below.
On occasion, I have heard it said that blogs do not present a complete picture of the homes they represent. We see all beauty and perfection, without the blemishes. Some would even say that these worlds of domestic tranquility are created for the camera and do not truly exist apart from the blogs. Still, I believe that this beauty does exist, and it may be found in every home.
This side of Heaven, there is no perfection, and all families are, in different ways, "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears." Yet, even in the dark valley, we are called to "wait in joyful hope." God trains His sunshine upon us, showing forth His goodness always. Just as in every home there are sorrows, there is also an Ideal waiting to be noticed.
The Ideal presents itself in any number of ways throughout each day and need not be created or staged. We find it jumping for joy as Daddy drags the Christmas lights up from the basement; we see it waiting for us with a picture book and hopeful expression; we hear its muffled shouts of fun through the glass of our back windows; and we feel its limp, dozing warmth by the armload on our laps.
When I am on vacation and see a worthwhile sight, I reach for my camera. So it is at home (the most worthwhile place of all). Marie and Maureen's performance is now in my heart's history book, and I will look at it when I am gray(er) and smile again. Indeed, it was not the only thing that happened that day--I'm sure I scaled a mountain of dishes and probably fretted over clothes and toys on the floor. That is all right and well worth it. The returning miner exclaims and rejoices over the diamonds, leaving the crags and rocks behind.
Any home where breathes a child contains more joy, contentment and beauty than the most well-crafted picture book or extensive magazine spread. And even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Scenes from a puppet show, performed with neither stage nor puppet
The curtain is down:
Baby Eileen makes her way backstage:
And is promptly kicked out:
"There once was a little sister. They loved her very much . . . . ":
Marie feeds Maureen her lines:
The cast assembles for a curtain call: