We are home again. After five years of fighting for the life of our little boy, we are home and in response to your question, “Is it good to be back?”
Is it sweet?
I told my children that going home would mean that people have moved on and that it was up to us to find our place in their lives again. I told them that things would be different. Friends and family have lived their lives and we would probably be surprised at the changes we see. I was right. People are different. Children I used to babysit now stand at eye level with me. People have died. Babies have been born and half-raised in our absence. Lovers have lost their way. And some walls have been built.
What I could not have known until surrounded by encompassing familiarity is how very much I have changed. So changed that I feel a perfect stranger trying to fit into a town that seems to know me. I didn’t expect this. When I walk familiar streets I have this haunting feeling that I might bump into myself somewhere. The ghost of me, as I was, may still be floating about this dusty little town somewhere.
I used to be a timid little Amy. A mouse of a woman. A girl. The thought of driving to Sacramento terrified me. I hid inside of my house with my little children as an excuse to be reclusive and atrophied. I am a woman now. I am the one who fights for taxis and bashes about in the course rhythms of a course city. I am the one who fought time and again for my son to receive his chemo and to save his lung. I’ve helped mothers in their journey with heart babies and I’ve helped some say goodbye when the journey is complete. I have driven the entire country on scant hours of sleep and a determination to find our land of milk and honey. It’s still me, but not really.
When I was still Amy the girl, I read this book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I’ve referenced this book before and will probably do it again. The premise is that, while editing a memoire he wrote to adapt for film, the author learned that every great story has a protagonist who overcomes odds to achieve something that matters to him. We already know this. We know that we don’t want to watch a movie about a guy who has macaroni and cheese for breakfast, then goes to work, then comes home to his cat. We want to know about people who do things that matter. Don Miller began treating his life like a story and God like the author. He began to realize that his own days are pages and that his pages were blank or, at best, self-serving and dull. Then he rolled up his sleeves and began to do things that mattered. He began to listen to the Author and, in time, he began to live a truly good story. When I read this, I became hungry for an intentional life that tested boundaries and savored the fleeting nature of our days. I prayed that God would speak to me about what kind of story he would write in me. That was a dangerous prayer.
Things began to happen.
Wonderful, terrible things.
Rewind fifteen years. God began our story at the beach, long before I prayed that fateful prayer. The Bearded Wonder and I were just kids. We walked in the mist of Stinson Beach. I had a red flower tucked behind my ear. It was the first time I had ever seen it rain on the beach. The drops were thick and heavy, leaving deep imprints on the sand before being wiped clean by the waves. We ran to shelter and I knew that he was my forever. The Author showed me that we were for each other.
That was the beginning of a great sweeping circle that I am living. The circle is closed and will arc again in the way only God can. It has been reattached at it’s origin this last week when we drove back to our beach. Early in the morning, we packed the kids up and drove through the fragrant Eucalyptus trees, the winding hills of heather, the dark forests on the mountain tops near Tamalpias, and back down into Stinson. The kids were in raptures of how amazingly varied and beautiful the Pacific coast is. The Bearded Wonder took the boys to the beach while I wokeAnna and bundled her into warm clothes. When I crested the sandy hill to meet them I was reminded of the time I crested the sandy hill on my wedding day. Same beach, same gray and dark green palette. Then it hit me. I saw my love and our four little boys on the beach and I knew that our full circle had reached it’s beginning. Anna’s eyes were wide with wonder as she drank in her first sight of the ocean. For the first time in more
than five years I felt completely and exactly at home.
It was a day of absolute perfection. We all felt wide and we felt free in the presence of so wide and free an ocean. Only hours before I was sunken in spirit, but a full day of being in my favorite place healed my addled brain. When I licked my lips I could taste the salt. I smelled and tasted and saw and heard the roaring kind of majesty of the Author. I became rooted. I remembered why I love California. And I was ready, finally, to go home and make peace with my new life.
What kind of story are you living? Is the Author nudging you toward something grander?
Perhaps, dear reader, it is time to take the first plunge into a scary unknown.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Live a good story.
Listen to the Author.
Do hard things.