Sometimes the specter of mother guilt chases so hard after us it’s hard to hear anything else. It’s always there nipping at our heels, whispering in our ears, weaseling into our heads. Right when we think the day’s gone well, it slips into bed next to us and reminds us of all we could have done differently; all we should have done if we were any kind of mother worthy of the children entrusted to us.

It can be so loud.

It makes me tired listening to it, listening to all the ways I should be better.

To drown it out tonight I close my eyes and climb back into my fifteen year old skin. I’m jumping on a trampoline at the foot of the Magaliesberg mountains in the Hekpoort valley. Dorothy and Rudi and Ruargh are all there. My mom’s still alive, my dad’s a church elder and my little brothers are still short enough to be my little brothers.

Cyara family camp. There is comfort just in rolling those syllables around my mouth. Cyara. Where my mom led the barn house skits, where the teens stayed up way too late around the camp fire one night and the scrambled eggs were always runny.

Cyara where we spent our pocket money on sweets and Cadbury’s chocolate Crunchies the first night and spent the rest of the weekend trying to beg leftovers off friends who’d been more frugal.

There was swimming and slipping out of the expectations of our parents to be anything other than fifteen and listening for Jesus. It was easy to hear His voice there in the heart of Kwa-Zulu. It sounded a lot like the whispers from friends who’d known me for what felt like forever.

I took it for granted of course. Perhaps that’s where a large part of the wonder of childhood originates. The unassuming belief that it would always be just that easy to be alive. That days could be designed just for sunshine and breathing in that dry grass and hearing the parents calling us for supper out on the great deck that swept one whole side of the lunch hall.

It wouldn’t be easy a few years later when most of what my friends wanted to know from me was whether my mom was doing better. “No, she’s dying,” is never something an eighteen-year-old expects to hear.

But for a time I was so alive and so blissfully unaware that there might be an opposite way to feel. And it’s only as an adult I’ve looked back through the telescope of my memory at who I was then. Only as an adult have I stopped to wonder what Cyara meant.

I had taken the name for granted along with the experience.

So one day while our house was buried in American snow and the chaos two house bound boys can generate, I Googled that South African memory and learned why it might have been such a place of rest.

The name CYARA is a mnemonic for the scripture:
Come YApart and Rest Awhile.”
It’s from the book of Mark 6:31.

Jesus and his disciples were tired and so overwhelmed by the demands of people following them that they hadn’t even had time to eat. {Sound familiar, moms?} So He said to his twelve best friends – come apart with me, and rest awhile.

I sit still. The hamster wheel in my head stops spinning. I feel this nearly thirty-seven-year-old skin slip back into place over the memories of a fifteen-year-old and it fits me just right. I feel quiet. The kitchen needs to be cleaned up and the laundry put away. But I sit still and the only thing moving in the room is the fan and the voices of boys drifting in from the bedroom where they’re supposed to be doing their quiet reading.

Come ye apart and rest awhile.

Even if it’s on the sofa with feet up on the ottoman that has the baby play mat draped over it.

Come ye apart and rest awhile.

Even if it’s only over a glass of coke, a nectarine and some crackers eaten without any rush.

Come ye apart and rest awhile.

I put down the guilt and the worry. I put down the comparisons and the self-imposed smallness. I put down the wish list for anything other than what we already have.

Quiet, still and full.

I just sit here beside the friend of fishermen and tired mothers. And for tonight, it is enough to vanish the specter.

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