When we eased ourselves into the warm bath of dreaming for the future, we named some things that might be nice. We talked of a dishwasher and school districts and the simple beauty of walls, ceilings, and floors that are not connected to anyone else's. But the one point which came up with regularity which was both surprising and not at all: we really, really wanted to be within walking (or at least biking) distance of a library.
I have always been the type to burrow, wormlike, into the spines of good novels and you have always been a connoisseur of new games, new movies, and the occasional Star Wars or business or sociological text, when the fancy struck. It just made sense that home, for us, would mean proximity to that sacred place where dwell stories, all sorts. If we could not smell paper and ink on the breeze, if we could not be there within ten minutes, we wanted no part of it.
This came rushing back to me as, just last week, we found ourselves weaving through the obstacles of a tiny downtown so that we might reach the library before it closed. From my position behind you, I could follow, like a guiding will o'the wisp, the small orange backpack that held our return items. I trusted you as we crossed the street and I trusted you with the second copy of my library card–love is good, love drives out fear.
It occurred to me, on that five minute trip, that even as we were en route, we had arrived.
Something similar ran a friendly knuckle down the ridges of my spine as we texted some friends to let them know we would be at the park, 8 pm sharp. There have been so many times in which we have had to say goodbye to those dear to us as paths diverged and new cities were conquered. Each time, it seemed as though it would always just be you and me, that prayers for friendships not divided by screens as we start over here or there may or may not be answered. Oh well, I guess we're fine.
It's hard to have hope for something simple and rich. It might not feel like much to ask, but fellow human beings with whom we can just exist are a rarity that seem to pop their gentle heads above the ebbs and flows of life's rolling hills just when we least expect it. A conversation here, a text there, a group hang that causes orbits to clink like champagne glasses; before you know it, we’re agreeing on two laps around the track instead of one.
And what a gift it was to walk in the company of friends! One step and then another, one articulation of the Lord's goodness and then a recipe idea and then a joke made in the throes of a Dungeons and Dragons debate and then, of course, it all comes back around to Star Wars. We were not expecting the sunset to be so magnificent nor for connection to be so natural, but it seemed that God was constructing as we went along.
Even as we walked, around and around, we had arrived.
It seems to me that this is how the Kingdom of Grace works: we ask and we plead and sometimes we're grateful, but all along the journey we have little arrivals. We do not always notice, and that is a shame, but as we keep trudging ahead God is giving handfuls of sweetness and solidarity to stuff in our pockets. He answers us when we're not paying attention. While we are wallowing or riding high, we are given extra. And then some. And then some.
Yes, there is a horizon for which we strive, but there is also today. There is the magic of yesterday's prayers being fulfilled right under our noses. I have far-reaching hopes that might yet manifest, but for now I'm going to bask in the library, in our friendships, in that which was given and has now become a part of us.
Cross-posted from Reflections on Faith, Words, and The Holiness of Today