five. really?!?

the little guy was polishing off his morning plate of eggnog french toast this snow-dusted day, when i went and struck a match. lit up that burning five, the one you see above, and plunked it in a plate of merry-sprinkled cookies.

burning plates in early morn apparently get his attention.

“why five?” he asked, not beating round the bush.

“the chair is five,” i said.

“today?” he asked.

“actually, it will be monday. but it’s five years of fridays,” i said with a number girl’s precision.

“that’s big,” he said.

i agree. quite heartfully.

i think back to december 12, 2006. i was the mother of a 13-year-old who had recently broken his neck, and a 5-year-old in kindergarten. i typed from home, not yet called back to the mothership of the newspaper where i’ve told stories for 29 years now.

i’d discovered somewhere along the way that i secretly hummed when it came to the homefront.

i knew i loved the heart and soul that upholsters every richly built dwelling place, be it cottage in the woods, or an old gray-shingled house with a birds’ nook built into the eaves. the garden, for me, had always been holy ground. the kitchen, a place that drew me. and being a mother absorbed me, in the truest ways. of these things, i thought deep and often. though none of them out loud. not much anyway.

but then came a starry december’s night.

i’d been prompted by my firstborn, who could wield a mouse, a keyboard and its contents with head-turning amazements.

“you should do a blog,” he said, shoving me into the deep end from the tentative edge of the pool.

“here, i’ll make your website,” he offered, putting off some 8th-grade algebra to make his mama purr.

it’s not every night your kid turns his imaginative powers your direction, and when he does, you haul over a chair and play along.

and that’s pretty much how i got here. i found a site, with a name that spoke to me, and down in the wee corner, it was copyrighted to me.

i had little choice but to begin to type.

every week day for a year, then every friday for the next four. which brings us to today. the three-day-early birthday. but when you get to five, who is counting minutes? who’s keeping track in such compulsive ways?

for all of you who’ve been here for all five years, i have a special row of chairs for you. right here, in the deepest chamber of my heart.

some of you are among my dearest, on the screen and off. some of you, though, became my dear beloved friends simply through the act of clicking, which in blog terms amounts to listening.

and listening is the thing.

because, really, all we want, most of us, is to be heard. whether our words come out in whispers or full-throttle proclamations, we are looking to find a few inches on the world stage where what we wonder, what we believe, matters.

world stage, of course, does not mean we seek a microphone and podium. sometimes the choicest stage is the one where someone sits across from us, and nods in rapt attention. is that not what’s at the heart of most every child’s prayer? someone, listen, please.

and so i whisper here.

not all of you whisper back, but for those of you who do, who’ve put down your own stories, who’ve wiped away a tear and let me know, who’ve joined the conversation, raised a question, turned a story upside down to discover something altogether new, i’ve another row of chairs for you, and those have padded seats.

i never asked to be a writer. i just discovered, early on, that making words and paragraphs was the closest thing to humming my heart knew how to do.

all my life i’ve written. all my life my words have flowed from deep within my heart. i can’t seem to help it.

it’s not that i’m not compelled to get my story out, but to unearth all the touchpoints, where yours and mine are intertwined, where we discover more about who we are, and this path we try to navigate, by putting words to inklings, by giving form to prayers that have not made a sound until we typed them out.

in the five years that this table has been set, so much has changed: the blogosphere, now, is a very crowded place, and i know how rare, how hard it is for anyone to carve out time to visit. my hope that this might have opened some unmarked door, the pages of a book, it did not take flight.

instead, the steady pounding of my fingers on the keys brought me a circle of voices who i know–without fanfare or applause–see the world in ways that are not unlike mine.

and most of all, and best of all, i have left a record for my boys of how deeply, purely, vastly they’ve been loved. and i’ve captured priceless snapshots from the pages of their lives, how one grew up, went off to college, and how the other melted us like butter.

i’ve discovered, deep and true, a voice that comes from miles within. and i’ve learned not to be afraid, to speak it as i live it.

it’s not an easy thing to write from your heart. not an easy thing to have your heart be questioned, tested, singed.

five years is a solid sum. and i think it satisfies my urge to complete what i’d begun. writing every friday is surely in my rhythms. but maybe now i’ll change it up. perhaps i’ll post some of what i write for the newspaper, for now they let me write there in ways i write here too.

perhaps i’ll be silent on a friday. because silence is a skill, a prayer form all its own.

what matters most is for all of you who get to here, to these holy sacred words, thank you. bless you. in ways you and i might never know. i am casting out my sparks of light, and trusting that in some form they’ll land upon your heart, and burn an everlasting flame.

know that yours forever burn in mine.

amen. and bless you.