Claire DeBerg // Writer

WOOL…I’M ALL WRAPPED UP IN IT

I have a new obsession. Perhaps this is coming at an unusual time as I’m a Minnesotan and we are finally at a place where we can safely say it will not snow again. (It won’t, right?) It just stormed and hailed and snowed last week. I don’t think our sweet MidCoast hearts can handle much more winter.

So now that we’re all outside and doing yard work and walking the lakes and opening up windows to refresh the closed in darkness of our Hoth-like winters, I want to talk about this apt subject: wool.

Wool in spring? Yes, wool! It is my new obsession. It started a few years ago when I saw an ad for a Pendleton trader blanket. I did that maniacal thing where I constantly watched for sales and agonized over whether or not I should be spending $300+ on a blanket. Then my mother-in-law asked what she could get me for Christmas. Um…let me think: a Pendleton blanket! Obv. But here is the strange part of the story: I left that gift in its original packaging for TWO YEARS (sorry Jan!). We moved, it got stored in the basement, I just wasn’t ready for it.

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Happy 50 Years of Marriage, Mom + Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary! I love you two. So much. You have lived so much life and so much of it together. More together than apart. I wish I could go back in time even before I was born and see you two in high school in Chicago…before college and marriage and careers and kids (and, let’s face it…lots and lots of dogs) filled your lives.

From the stories I hear about dad, high school was a testing ground…could he survive his teens while being both a cool, good-looking, tough guy and a tender-hearted poet and devoted Christian? And what about mom, with her quiet, studious persona, a true beautyMom and Dad wedding picture and gentle spirit? I like to think that when you met in high school you just knew one another was your person. I like that from what I hear, you two just knew you were each other’s and even when going off to separate colleges and maybe even dating other people, that you two together was the plan all along. And there was no drama. There was no breaking up and getting back together and tears and accusations and meanness. No, not you two. Read More

I Was 22, Pregnant and Alone: Adoption Was The Way

In this piece I wrote which was published in this month’s issue of The Mennonite magazine, I took on the call to reflect on a favorite scripture from the Bible. My “Shaped by Scripture” reflection shares how one small part of a well-known story about Jesus plunged my life and plans into the best kind of tailspin.

Here’s how it starts:

The rowing moments: A reflection on Jesus calling the first disciples

Luke 5:1-11

 

“When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11

I love the pain found in the story of Jesus calling the first disciples in Luke because it takes me back to my unwanted pregnancy.

I first felt the baby when I was resting during my three-mile walk along the Cedar River in Iowa. The melting snow had caused the river to swell and edge over the banks, flooding the path at one point. The trail that cut around the Cedar River is a path I walked every morning with my sister during my pregnancy. We walked every day because every day I had to face the truth that I was growing a human I did not want. But the morning I felt the baby move I happened to be walking alone.

When I reached the shallows—the part of the river with frequent floods and bordered by houses built on stilts—the walking path was impassable. It lay nestled under water as though a large glassy tabletop had been rolled across the path. I tried skirting the water, but it seemed the river had not actually spilled over the bank but seeped up from the ground to form a lake of sorts.

So the arc I made through the woods was large and added time and lots of barriers for me to climb between, through, around. As I pushed myself over the trunk of a fallen tree and stepped down to the other side, my body front-heavy, I sat down and thought of Simon the fisher. I watched the ducks quake quietly and push around the glassy water tabletop. I heard the rush of the brown river swim with broad strokes. When my heart slowed and I settled into my repose, I felt my baby nudge my stomach as though tapping me awake from a dream. And suddenly there were two people sitting on the tree stump, and I looked around me but found no one else to corroborate that truth. Just me. And the baby.

That movement in my inner waters had me sit a bit straighter and lean my ear toward my core, hoping to hear an answer—the question every moment being, Should I keep you or give you? While I waited for the answer, the ducks seemed content in their new, still water. They didn’t pace around the edge like a cat on a ledge but just walked right in. Were they aware that the water that used to send them shooting downriver was now transformed, stilled and solemn yet the same?

So my baby and I sat at the edge of the floodwaters, and I wondered aloud with an aching anger about what had become of me and that river. Is this what abundant life is, God?

And here’s how it ends…read the full transcript over where it was published on The Mennonite.

 

Happy Birthday to Gloria, The One Who Has Made Me Cry Lately. Twice.

It feels wildly apt that I have begun writing this pseudo love letter to my daughter on the eve of her 15th birthday after driving home in the craziest rainstorm I’ve ever known.

It was less like rain and more like vats of water being dumped on us as we inched our way home. It was the kind of nighttime rainstorm that has you sit straighter while you drive and track that fog line like never before. No music. No distractions, just focus on the next hydroplane and feeling the car pass through it.

Indeed the drive home tonight was much like my labor 15 years ago on this date. My contractions had started in the morning—the same morning I’d scheduled a tour of the hospital’s maternity ward. I wobbled along on the tour with the other new expectant mothers and at one point we circled around a labor room door and shared our due dates. I was last to share and I said, “Actually I think I’ll be coming back here later tonight because my contractions have started.” All the eyes widened while the nurse stepped towards me and everyone else backed away.

After the tour I didn’t really know what to do. I drove home and felt the rush of my waters being churned up by my baby. I changed the sheets on my bed. I washed all my dishes. And dried them. And put them all away. I looked at myself in the mirror of my bathroom and shook my head. I lived alone in a church basement (I know, I know, it’s a story for another time) and there was no air conditioning and it was terribly hot in that mid-August 2002.

Once my sister and brother-in-law learned I was in labor they made me dinner and then drove me to the mall so I could walk around and labor in the cool. None of us knew what we were doing. This was the first baby in the family since I was born. I paced up and down the birth and parenting aisle of Barnes & Noble reading about labor while actually in labor. It was all very bizarre. But the best part is next. Read More

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