Cobwebs

I met her in tears and she met me with a hug. We started our loop and for every step, another drop hit the ground as we moved forward in silence. Neither of us felt the need to fill the quiet. There wasn’t much to say. After a mile of muted moving, the nights events started gushing out between tears.

I had spent the evening having dinner with family and the pain had been tangible in every moment. We had been sitting on the front porch, watching the sunset when I looked over helplessly to see my aunt’s tear-filled eyes as she recalled a multitude of health problems on either side of the family and the stress of her overwhelming job. There was so much pain in those eyes. So much pressure. She was holding the weight of the world on those shoulders and she didn’t even realize it. And there I was, paralyzed. Unable to help. Unable to take the pain away. So I didn’t try. I just sat and listened. I decided to just be. Be there for her. Be present. Present in the pain. Present in the heartache. Present in hope.

We continued to walk forward in renewed silence.

“What are you thinking about?” I asked. She told me she had been praying.

I realized the other day that life won’t always look like this. We were walking early in the evening and the two of us acknowledged that someday this sacred time when the air is warm and we are free to share stories and giggles and tears won’t be so convenient. Life will get in the way. Priorities will change.

But for now we get to stay in this sweet season. And it is very good. So we walk through life together, quite literally. Late, when the sun has gone down and the neighborhood gets quiet, we start our 7 mile loop. And I walk ahead sometimes to get the cobwebs before she does. And we run up hills when we get to them because she would rather that than walk. And late at night we re-enact The Notebook and lay in the middle of the road to look up at the stars.

I tell her my stories and she tells me hers. We talk about our days and laugh about boys. We share in our struggles. We wrestle with our dreams. Sometimes we don’t talk at all and just keep moving forward…one foot in front of the other, because that’s all we really know how to do. But we keep moving forward nonetheless, even on the extra dark nights, when the moon doesn’t light our way and the streetlights are out. Because at the end of the day, we know we’re in it together and that is comforting.

And I thank God for putting someone by my side who listens. And prays when I forget. Someone who is present. Present in the pain. Present in the heartache. Present in hope.

 

Knees.

We sat in anxious anticipation, making our way down a bumpy dirt road, sticky from a long bus ride without AC. 60 high school freshmen buzzed with excitement behind me, unaware of the epic demonstration of God’s great love that was in store for them in the coming days…minds tangled with enthusiasm and fear.

As for me, fear had no place. We passed the welcome sign to camp and a tangible sense of peace moved through my body. This was home.

Young Life camp is the one place in the world that feels like home to me. I breathe deeper. I sleep better. My head and heart feel clear. The burdens of the world melt away. Things just seem to make more sense.

I had the privilege of spending the last five days at home. I laughed until my stomach hurt, danced until my feet were sore, and cried all sorts of tears because twenty (TWENTY) high school girls somehow managed to steal my heart in the midst of all of it.

I sat next to one of my dearest friends on the way home tonight and tried to ignore the inevitable… but the heaviness wrapped around me like a cloak. The campers were heading back home, but I was leaving mine. And it hurt.

She looked at me knowingly and asked if I would be okay. I told her I would be, but I think sometimes she knows me better than I know myself. We picked up thai food and found a quiet place outside on the grass to giggle over our inability to use chopsticks correctly and we praised God for a stunning sunset.

She asked questions and the tears flowed from my eyes as I realized that five days at home wasn’t enough and I wasn’t ready to be back in the place where such a huge abundance of past hurt lingers like a thick fog in the air. A mosquito bit her forehead and I laughed so hard that I spit a mouthful of chicken out, so we hopped the fence and made our way back to the car. She asked more questions. The tears continued to fall.

And now I’m back at my house and things haven’t changed since five days ago when I left. And I find myself on my knees, praying. Because it’s hard when the place that you’ve called home all of your life doesn’t feel like home. It’s hard to feel committed to people and things in a place that holds so many reminders of past pain and hurt. It’s hard to leave the comfort and beauty of home.

So I stay. Stay in this place that doesn’t feel like home. Stay vulnerable, without all of the answers. Stay on my knees. Praying to a God whose love is more faithful than the morning.