Loneliness arrives with her suitcases on holidays, packed full of reminders that home isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind.
We left the brick house with the sea green door in the desert almost ten years ago when He told us to go. We looked in the rear view mirror of pool parties and face painting, backyard birthday celebrations and Easter lunches under low hanging orange trees.
We waved goodbye to pushing furniture against walls for Christmas Eve gatherings and to women’s leadership lunches around strawberry salad on antique plates. Pulled the moving van of life’s possessions away from the neighborhood where Sunday worship and elementary school classrooms sat a walk across the parking lot outside our back yard gate.
If the house could talk, it would tell stories of wispy locks strewn on the concrete porch of first haircuts, Harrison’s wobbly first steps, Murielle’s first bike ride weaving down a dead end street, and the sudden death of our first family dog. Of heads bent low over ministries pioneered, women’s retreats organized, and Christmas teas carefully planned on the living room floor.
Every holiday since pulling away from community waving goodbye on the curb, loneliness arrives with her suitcase of postcards and pictures from the past standing beside my bed at the first light of day. And after I sulk like a tea bag floating in cold water, I invite Jesus to join me.
Because He reminds me that the destination of contentment is not a place, it’s a person. That community, church, and family cannot fill the empty places of the soul.
Today I sit on a low chair beside my family on a beach stretched out white and foamy. The sea’s quiet roar rocks us to sleep and the pages of books flap in the wind.
Later I stand in the ebb of hungry seas, feel sand and tiny bits of shell slide between my toes. He walks with me along the shore of my discontent, points out the cerulean sky, chalked cloud streaks overhead.
The squawk of sea gulls, the way the sun shines on a day of predicted tropical storms, how the breeze blows to cool our warm sun-kissed shoulders. The way the beach empties on a holiday and we bask in this peace all to ourselves. Peace from the sacrifice of others.
And gratefulness erases the delusion that happiness only looks like the laughter of yesterday.
Counting gifts of thanks with Ann because it changes the way we see:
- For a day of discovery in Charleston to celebrate my mother in laws birthday.
- Pulling weeds and trimming because it’s the best place to hear Him.
- A new birdbath for my birthday (which is three months away).
- The way my son enjoys helping his sister work on her school project, giving up his Memorial Day.
- Dinner at the restaurant that feels like we sit in Paris under candlelight.
- For time to read good books.
- The dear friend that lets us park at her house on the island.
- An unplanned drive that leads to a secret find of beauty along the water. (I just might have to share this one with you later this week.)