Seven women trek carpool cars to my house, as I straighten couch pillows just one more time. . . middle school mirror looking turned to house tidying. Faces illumine my kitchen filled with a pot-luck patchwork feast. Puzzle-piece dishes in artful proportion nourish laughs and kind questions that expand the eight chairs squeezed to fit the table. Different editions of the same book wrinkle couch pillows, and I don’t notice as eyes point to one another, the TV invisible. And we’re together. And we each belong to the laughter and the conversation. Wiping the counter and clearing silent plates, I soak in a prayer of thanks that leaves me and the dishwasher full, like normal, more blessed than I deserve. Toothbrush in hand, middle school me looks back in the mirror. I can’t help smiling at her, with voices echoing in my ears, the type of voices that give us courage: unique, yet not so different from our own.
Birds gossip in the trees in our front yard. Two wide maples cast huge shade across green grass and the gray cement made up of driveway and sidewalk. We three sit in this shade with fat pastel chalks in hand. The black concrete begs, a canvas. Grandma makes art: a face, a flower, the word Faith. Toddler’s shirtsleeves are powdery with color as she scribbles a white circle around herself chalk swinging back and forth, up and around. I sit, somehow anxious to put the chalk to concrete, finally drawing a safe little house, a doodle I’ve done time and time again. Grandma skips past safe and crafts a hop-scotch board and gets right to hopping, skirting over her rock, reminding me of the rules. Toddler sits transfixed, as a grin spreads. She’s excited to see that Grandma can bounce. In response tiny arms go up, as if reaching to grab the sky and pull herself into a jump. She stretches out tight wanting so badly to join the bounces. Trying. And trying. “Jump, jump!” her little brain directs her body. Her legs aren’t quite jumpers just yet, but she smiles nonetheless, excited to be all stretched out. As shade hugs chalk, a bouncing Grandma, and a toddler stretched to the sky, I listen and hear old souls and little souls pulsing with new life.
It’s late and chilly. My one-year-old nudges my thigh and points out the screen door. We’re just letting the dog out, but my daughter’s got a hunger for playing outside. Hearing a whisper nudge that seems to say, “Why not?” I slide out of the way holding her tiny hand as she has more bravery than balance for steps. With a Lego block in one hand and a kazoo shaped like red lips in the other, she sit-shuffles down the three cracked-paint steps. Our dog stands on point at the edge of the grass, somehow stopped by the cement barrier, and my pajama feet girl skip-runs up and down the sidewalk dotted with whirly-gig seeds from the Maple tree. Dusk settles over the windless leaves, and I step my socked feet down to sit on the second to last step smiling at the whirring kazoo dotted by giggles. Breath slows, confident that the two are playing safely past the danger of the steps, so I look up and to the left to the bright white circle set in contrast to the deep purple-blue of the sky framed in a perfect arch by the leaved branch. And I think, I might have missed this moon.
The notes are bouncing around us, and we run.
We run down front to the throng of people, my husband 30, and me not-quite-30. The group’s energy is pulsing, younger than we are, but we run down anyway. It’s all moving and the song is swelling, and it’s so alive, and we’re lost in the music. For a beat I forget that I’m at the Pinewood Bowl in little Lincoln, Nebraska, as I’m part of the Mumford and Son’s bigger song, Little Lion Man, and there’s a dance in me that just has to get out and meet the music, and I’m not a dancer.
We should be getting tired, and we’re not. Instead, we’re dancing and screaming lyrics, and my thoughts flit away to my desire to hold onto this, to be in this here, this now forever.
But, eventually the song stops, the band packs up, and garbage is strewn about the packed down grass. But a song was there, and we were a part of it, and even though it can’t last, we’ll have it in our minds, and when I pull it up on YouTube, I’m back at the PineWood bowl dancing with my hubby to more than a song. For it’s not the dancing that I want to hold onto, or the beat, or the venue. I loved the with. I loved the this. But I can always step back knowing, I’m not alone, but with. I can always step back and say what I was saying right then, that this, this is what I’ve been waiting for.
Gravy and mashed potatoes got nothing on a momma’s kitchen hug or a May breeze between me and clouds. Those comfort, and yet I lean toward an atypical comfort, my iPhone, in the sometimes uncomfortable space that is just me.
Why does it comfort me to troll with my finger, scrolling through tagged recipes and small sentences of others, largely absent from my flesh-and-blood life. Perhaps the distraction itself is a comfort, anything that diverts my attention.
And yet, when I truly find myself in that quiet space, a different comfort enters in. It’s a peacefulness, a deepness that I see as God, in the quietness whispering, “It’s okay. I know. I’m here. You’re not alone. And, quiet all those sputter-thoughts, girl. . . You’re enough. No action required.”
And while all that talk about me is comforting, the true comfort lies in Who I know God to be, in the steadfastness, in the tenacity, in the ri-dic-u-lous grace that God’s about. That’s a comfort that borders on overwhelming and unhinging; that’s a comfort that eases me past myself into something much deeper, much, much more comforting.