When I was a girl my Aunt Effie’s big yard hosted our annual family reunion. My brothers and sister and I waded in the creek and caught crawfish with the multitude of cousins. Grandpa lived close by—in a trailer between my aunt and her daughter. He lived there by himself until he died at the age of 100. Aunt Effie’s house was convenient and fun and I’ll never forget how our cousin Martha Ann led us on an adventure far up the creek bed one year.
Grandpa has long passed and Aunt Effie is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s now and we’ve been meeting at a community center for many years. We traded the creek for a ball field and the homey comfort for convenience but we still gather every summer to hug on each other and reminisce and break bread. The community center has become our new tradition and my children remember no other way.
So this past weekend I made a Texas sheet cake and a cucumber salad and we packed the cooler and I drove north to feed my roots. I always anticipate time with my family in a healthy mix of dread and longing, and this time was no different. So before I left, I prayed, “Lord, show me something new. Open my eyes to all the beauty you have made here.”
I drove up alone a day early so I could spend some time with my mom and my sister. Jeff and the boys planned to meet me at the reunion the following day. It’s a three hour drive to Farmington so as I drove I listened to some new music, let myself remember being small—the taste of watermelon on my tongue and the feel of slippery wet rocks beneath my feet. And I kept my eyes open for beauty.
We are all grown now, my cousins and I, with children of our own—some with grandchildren even. Seemed like we were chasing babies all weekend long and I kept checking in with God, kind of like, “Ok, you can show me that special bit of delight anytime now, Love. I’m ready. Eyes wide open.”
It wasn’t until the drive back home, caught in a drenching downpour that I got it. My heart was full of all the moments—watching the kids play baseball, chasing my little nephew around, laughing with my sister, a long talk with cousin Walter, the bowl my Aunt Martha gave me that is “just like one your grandma had,” and the way my heart gave a little leap when my husband walked into the room.
All these ordinary moments. Isn’t this the beauty? Isn’t God there, breathing in and out with each one? I was just like those Pharisees and scribes, asking Jesus for a sign when the Sign was staring me in the face plain as day.
New. Every moment.
May I have eyes to see.
The winner of Emily Wierenga’s book Atlas Girl is Mari-Anna! Congratulations! I’ll be in touch, my friend.
ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree (www.thelulutree.com) is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us: