There’s an indulgence to this little stretch of time. This time when my family is holding steady: me and the boys. My mom. When my work is solid and beloved. I am not restless. I love my home, and the labors to which I set myself. My children. My city. And my friends! Good Lord, my friends. This morning – on my little drive to the church – I counted some twenty humans who saved my life this year. Who saved my life. They did.
I spend time alone. When the boys aren’t with me – when I let myself sink into that – I choose who to be with. Where to go. I explore. I read when I want. I drink cheap wine and listen to music I adore. I stretch out in bed. I wake up slowly. I listen to the coffee as it brews. I miss the boys and feel out of sorts. I long for them, and then just walk with that. Is is okay.
I date when I want, and find pleasure in it. I don’t need it. I sit in our little chapel during the Eucharist on Wednesdays and love everyone so much I ache. I stand at the threshold between church and chapel on Sundays and take in all those faces. All those stories I’ve come to care about. All those stories now entwined in mine. I love them all with perfect madness. I am dizzy from loving them. I say, “it might kill me, all this love.” And friends say, “Thank God we’re not called to survival.” It is okay to die for love. There is resurrection.
And in this fertile space – when I let it feel fertile and not barren, which is all in the looking – I have learned some things about me. And I like that too. New discoveries. It feels indulgent even to be breathe deeply enough to make those.
Like: here’s one secret this year has taught me.
I still love cities. The anonymity of a crowded sidewalk. The voices. The coffee cups, and alleyways, and sharp buzzing air. But now I can be charmed by wide open countryside. And also by small towns with rundown two-block-long Main Streets. These spaces all have gifts to offer, and I can see those gifts now with grateful eyes.
And they call to me. Maybe I’ll stay in this solid, old house. It is sweet and stable and never showy. It is two miles from my beloved downtown. I could finish the basement some day; put in a second bathroom. Restore the fireplace. Lay tile. When it needs a new roof, I could put metal up there. I could love it that long; offer myself to it that fully. It is good and it is enough.
But maybe, too, these boys and I will land in a smaller town somewhere nearby. A town with a little grocery a block away where I could send the boys on their bikes to grab butter or lemons.
Or on some stretch of land: a barn with old rafters, tall trees to explore, winds that spring up and startle. With farmers for neighbors, and pitch black nights, and stars all over the place.
Those landscapes surround this beloved city, and I’ve ventured out into them, and I like what I see. They sing to me quietly, and I find myself open to their songs.
Isn’t that lovely? The invitation to feel open to possibility? I have so few answers these days, and I’m learning to settle down in the face of that.
Here’s a pretty prayer I pray sometimes.
May I open my heart and mind to continuous growth, unexpected change, and the perpetual unsettling, liberating expansion of being alive. May I have the courage to name and sanctify this moment that is shaping me into the image of the ever-evolving Divine. Blessed are you, our God, the Renewing One of the world, who has allowed me to reach this time of transformation.