Plan Your Intention

The only control you have is to plan your intention.
— Anne Lamott, Some Assembly Required

On the day of the eclipse, I did not intend to be in the pediatric ER. Neither did TJ, and neither did Story. Yet there we were, "getting through stuff" as Anne Lamott writes elsewhere in her book, and anxiously counting down the minutes till we could be free to head home and gaze upward.

In my experience, inward and onward is much easier than upward. I wake up and go forth into this day with a plan, a plan that certainly includes pause for the hoopla happening in the heavens, but that also was to include various other tasks for the pre-eclipse morning. Most promising was the plan for Bauer to babysit for an hour so I could watch a Logic training course in preparation for the school year ahead. That had my attention for 35 minutes, until the spell was broken and I saw a bloody face before me.


She had been tripped and smashed her beautiful face into the half-brick wall in the playroom. That game met an early death and won’t show up around here again. A big boy learned a life lesson about choices and care of little ones, and a precious girl learned about stitches, and beds that incline, and Mom and Dad being present together.


My intentions for the day were dashed against that brick wall as well, while the Zen proverb to “let go or be dragged” was clearly stored in my psyche for such a time as this. It was my turn to learn anew about waiting, about wanting what might have been and accepting there’s no way to get it.  I got Story, alive and soon to have a scar, but that is all that matters because it is better than so many alternatives.


In that tiny, four-walled, zero-windowed cell, I got to remember Ian in prison. I got to see a tiny white spot that was my little girl's skull and watch her be brave as eight stitches went in. I got to imagine the light outside that would soon turn dark, and patiently hope we’d get out in time to see it. I got to practice gratitude for my parents coming to town to be with the other kids, not knowing we’d be away from them for the three hours leading up to the eclipse.


And after the darkness of Story’s accident, the fear and the upset, the trauma and the trial, I knew light had come into my heart. I was lunchless and bookless and practically motionless in tiny Room #7. My plans were eclipsed and I was surely outside of my intention, yet I was still okay. I got a glimpse of heaven that I had no idea I’d see on the day of the Great American Solar Eclipse. And when we did get home with twenty mintues to spare, I could gaze upward at the tiniest edge of sun and know that a sliver of light is all we need to see.