And finally, when it seems like there's more bad news than good, I gather the people I love around me. and sometimes that's the one thing that really helps. Sometimes what it takes for me to really regain a sense of God's hand and presence is nothing more than to stop the dozens of things I'm doing all at the same time and connect with the people I love
As I'm writing this, my suitcase is packed and sitting at the foot of my bed. This is the road trip I've been waiting for since reading week began. It's when I drive for hours at a time telling goofy stories and dancing to the radio with someone I love to go visit someone who makes my heart skip a beat.
This reading break, much like this semester, much like the semester before, I've been learning about loving people.
Life has a way of getting chaotic and crazy when you're not looking and underneath all this sweetness that's overflowing I sometimes feel like I'm losing my footing, just a little.
Before the week began my friend and I stood in her room talking about what this next week would bring for both of us. For both of us this week is about taking big leaps and stepping out on faith. And we sat over tea and talked about how, for both of us, this is a challenging time.
I'm reminded of the scene in Bambi, where the tiny deer is struggling to stand moments after being born. I feel like that. I feel like all this birth and rebirth is doing a number on me and it's making it hard to stand sometimes. I wobble and sometimes fall and I get back up and wobble some more.
Sometimes there are moments bounding through fields and everything is good, and then it hits me that these legs still don't feel like mine.
As my friend stood beside her packed suitcase, preparing for this final sending off, we gave each other last minute words of advice:
You don't always need to be in control
You'll do great
You are loved
We spoke these words like a blessing over each other. Bags packed and ready we both stood on new legs entering a new season in our lives and these were the words we offered.
Life hands us opportunities at every turn to get over ourselves, to get outside ourselves, to wake up from our own bad dreams and realize that really lovely things are happening all the time
I'll always remember the life giving nourishment that happened during this reading break.
Maybe others don't see it as such. It was just cups of water, just movie nights, just sports games and breakfast. In the moment it's easy to gloss over these things and call them ordinary.
But the night we spent filling cups with water and lining the staff hallway - all 2100 cups and an hour of the night - it wasn't just a harmless prank. It was working together and heads bent and hands filling and extending and laughter, so much laughter. And even the next morning, with the early wake up call and the lack of amusement from those we intended to prank, as we knelt on the floor mopping spilled water and collecting cracked cups, we were all smiling just a little bit.
This is what friendship is: made in the kneeling and pouring out and laughing and standing beside each other in the moments when the morning comes and the harmless doesn't seem so harmless anymore.
And the nights we spent watching movies I couldn't follow, it wasn't just movies. It was the opening of homes and opening the tub of ice cream kept in the freezer for such a time as this and how there was always room for just one more. One more friend, one more story, one more laugh.
The curling game on TV wasn't just another game but the moment when we all gathered in the same room and cheered until midway through when exhaustion settled in and we slept all cuddled close only to wake up for the final end to cheer again.
And breakfast wasn't just breakfast but serving one another and gathering around the table and so much laughter and I looked across the table - the one we'd pushed together so there would be room for all of us within arms length - and smiled because these people are the ones that are on my team.
The stakes have grown in our lives, the way they do, it seems, every time you decide to love something
I've sent many texts during this past week that simply say "I miss you."
I used to think I was good at being alone. I was independent and I didn't need anyone and I was going to be perfectly content spending the rest of my life running wild and free.
The idea of settling down did and still does scare me.
Mostly, I think, I was just scared of being left.
I've been left before, so many times it feels like it's inevitable. People die or walk away and that moment of standing there feeling empty is one of the worst feelings I've ever felt. I told myself I didn't need anyone. I'm fine on my own. It was easier that way.
One thing I've been learning this year is how wrong I was. I went back, over and over, to the most painful parts only to have them once again scrubbed raw. And when I was there, standing alone having been left yet again, that was where everything started.
I began to be built up again, new layer after layer.
And now I'm the girl with shaking hands who types out the letters to "I miss you" more times than she can count because distance was never a thing she's been good at.
Sometimes leaving is necessary, because it reveals what happened there and why it mattered.
So when the dorm emptied, when my friends packed up their cars and I knew it was for the last time before the real last time, when we sat on the couches after he'd packed his truck, the being left revealed something to me.
This semester I've leaned into love, hard. I've stood on wobbly feet on the cusp of something beautiful that absolutely terrifies me.
I wrote during the tender beginnings that it felt like I was holding a small flower, or a bird, something delicate that could easily be crushed under my hands.
I've never been good at loving. It's scary and there's great risk and what if...
I don't know the exact moment I decided people were better than no people. Maybe it was when the being left didn't destroy me. Or when I knew that if I ran now it would only be out of fear. Or when the people around me kept showing up with crackers and hugs and cards in an effort to say 'I love you'
But at some point I chose people. I chose yes and more yes.
It's beautiful. And terrifying. Love liberates, and makes beautiful, and when I look at my people I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
I have this. I have them.
So I text him "I miss you" daily and he tells me how many more days and I realize I'm not less of myself. It's not good or bad, it just is. It's more. It's beautiful. It's grace and it goes deeper and stretches farther and covers more then I would have imagined.
Everyone has a home team: it's the people you call when you get a flat tire, or when something terrible happens. It's the people who, near or far, know everything that's wrong with you and love you anyway. The home team people are the ones you can text with five minutes notice saying "I'm on my way, and I'm bringing tacos"