Our home was built decades ago when the land was ripe with avocado trees, our home was their tiny ranch. It is not built of wood, but designed of stone and cement, angled in such a way that in the heat of the afternoon, shadows will darken and cool.
Yesterday, we had family photos taken. I had bought sandals for Poppy on Craigslist, tried to lay out matching clothes. One by one in the late afternoon as I tried to run a brush through my own hair, a child arose from their nap and came to join. Little bodies running around, some needing to be held, arms up to me, pout on their lips as I try to lay out clothes, smooth hair with the palm of my hand.
“Where are any of your shoes, Elijah?” I ask as he shrugs and runs outside, his long wet hair flowing wildly behind him, where are the hair cutting scissors? The minutes fly by as the sun reaches the end of the day.
Andrew is home, one boy whines to be held, one small girl takes off the new sandals and puts on daddy’s boots, I cut Andrew’s hair, and try to find Elijah’s hair next, “I’m sort of calm…” he offers as I snip.
The time is gone, I start to panic. Maria who has been ready for a while sees the shift in my mind as she stands in the hallway, darkened by the afternoon shadows, and smoothes her new dress down with the palms of her hands, she doesn’t say anything for a little while.
Then, quietly, not wanting to interfere, but seeing me, “Mama…” she says quietly, I can barely see her standing in the afternoon hallway of our home.
She plays with the edges of her dress, “Mama, how can I help you?” Kids are stomping, undressing, pushing hair in wild directions, and the question causes me to catch my breath. I breathe out slowly, pulled from the space I had entered.
“Honey,” I smile, “You’re just the best…”
She beams at me with her kindest smile, “No you’re the best, mom…” undeserved words for me.
I ask her to find the picnic blanket, and find Elijah’s shoes and she pops off and finds easy success, “Buddy,” she whispers to Elijah sitting next to him on the red earth colored tiles, “You need to keep your shoes in your room, not all throughout the trees outside,” Elijah smiles and nods along, not listening.
From that moment on, each child was dressed and put in the car and we drove away to our smiling friends holding their cameras. The kids did as best they could, Poppy exploding with laughter at any dog walking by on a leash.
How quickly I can loose my focus, to lament and not notice what is right in front of me and the hectic messes, to see what shouldn’t be, and not what is just beyond my sight. The flowers growing wild out my window, the daughter growing in my home, kind hearted and filled with peaceful love. The light pouring recklessly through my window, the husband and his long list of kind ways he has served us in just this one day. God cracks open the sky and fills my home, our homes with, with kindness that if I am not careful will go unseen, lost. The purest of gifts happening while I am distracted.
I can spend my days waiting, or trying to get ready to rush to the next, and the next, without breathing or living, or like my wiser family members, create a culture of care, simple love. To live long enough to see God dwelling in our home, and in each of us, even me.
To good endings to a long day because of kindness, and the beauty the can go unseen. To the gifts God has given me, undeserved, but appreciated when I am wise enough.
//We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. 1. cor. 13:12-13