coming awake (this is my prayer)

I haven’t been honest with you. It’s been difficult to be here, in this space, trying to write as though my life is the same as it’s always been. Because it’s not. I need to come clean with you (it’s the only way that I can find my way back to my voice again). What I need to tell you is this: Louisa died. She was only four months old. It was unexpected, and the absolute definition of tragic. She was, is, part of my tribe.

This has changed everything for me.

These months since, I’ve been carrying this deep awareness of time. It’s like I can see the hourglass tipping, watching as each grain of sand moves from the top to the bottom.   I have only so many grains of sand, and once it’s gone I can’t ever get it back. I’m afraid of the scarcity; I’m fearful about waste.   I want to know how to hold those moments, how to understand them and appreciate them. How can I recognize each grain of sand for the gift that it is, before it is gone, slipped right out of reach, never to be had again?

Is it not enough, this blessed sip of life?

I am afraid of missing this life. I’m afraid I’m not holding it tightly enough, or loosely enough, or not having enough fun and wonder and glory, or having too much fun and not doing enough of the hard things. I fear the scarcity of the moments, that they will run out without warning, and that I’ll have regrets. I fear the risks involved to live the life I want to live, the life that will make my soul take liftoff. Because the only way to get liftoff is to get off the ground.

I don’t want to miss the adventure of my very life because my eyes are on the horizon scouting out the next one.

Here is my adventure: this prayer of exhale, the glory of rainy days and hide and seek games. The smallness of step stools at the kitchen counter, where arms reach and lengthen to stir the pot of soup. Mine is the adventure of darkness creeping over campfires, the perfume of wood smoke in our hair and our on our skin, the words spoken breathed as benediction to this life of smoldering love.

I’m coming awake to it all (this is my prayer).

It looks like this: awake my eyes are open wide to the wonders of it all – I’ve tasted the fresh harvest of the backyard garden, the carrots pulled from the dark of the earth, to be surprised by their length and girth even – faith fulfilled in the palm of a two-year-old’s hand. I’ve watched the sunset, night after night, rhythms to count on, vivid and wild colors fading to concrete darkness and then later, the promise of a new day. I’m coming awake alongside the dirt and the mud, the creek beds and rocks. I’m watching flower petals, spent and used up, riding the current of the creek as the gurgling bubbles tinkle soft lullabies. My prayer is in each step of the hike, each careful foot fall of climbing through fields of ancient boulders. Each inhale is an invitation for me see, each breath out a quiet thanks for it all.

Oh, I know I’ll have regrets.  I’ll mess it up.  Things will be hard.  I’ll fall, and hurt; I’ll watch others fall and hurt.  There will be worry.  And maybe it’s naive of me to think that it all adds up, balances out.  That the risks equal the reward.  That the climb equals the view.  But maybe it’s not.

The kids have this new fascination with the screen saver on the computer. It scrambles through the photos, and they stand all three in a line watching as they flash by. Grant is especially good at calling out, with specific detail, a narration of these photos. It’s kind of like watching a highlight reel of the last year or so. What I realized, though, is that these highlights look like life. Regular old life. We take pictures of things that nobody would have thought to take pictures of 20 years ago. We take pictures of cooking dinner, of swinging on the swings, of reading books on the couch. Photos are ubiquitous now, because we carry our cameras in our pockets. I think we know –  we know – that when we aim the lens, we are focusing on that very moment, calling it out for what it is. These very small, very ordinary moments form the highlight reel of the adventure of a lifetime.

I’m coming awake to it all (this is my prayer).

The glory is there, calls me in, bends me low in a whisper of thanks on the soccer field, the early evening slant of light catching the blades of grass, igniting the bodies that lengthen, reaching outward, burning up until they, too, show only glory revealed. The clouds, fluffy and weightless, part only enough to let heaven touch earth and in that moment all is free of care. I’m in it, my own arms and legs lost to the glory of stretching and running after them, giggling and chasing. And then I’m watching the scene, no longer in it, but next to it, writing it on my brain, closing my eyes tight to recall every detail: the scent of the freshly mowed grass, the shriek of Renee’s laughter, the warmth of the sun on my bare skin. I memorize their faces, the glow of their eyes, the sweat slicking their hair back from their faces. Oh, what a life.

And we laughed, and we cried and thought oh, what a life.

 

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