I like life slow. There's a line in a song that says, "I am long on staying, I am slow to leave, especially when it comes to you, my friend." I love conversation, and great stories, and hearing from people who aren't just like me. The best time to soak in a good story is when everyone's sitting down with full bellies, all the color and detail of a story are passed on for everyone to enjoy just like when it happened - or maybe even better, and people feel content. It's rich.
Irony. Not much about my life has been slow. (Except maybe the way I talk, I've been told. Shut up.) In high school I did the straight-A, president of the band, cross country captain, do-it all thing. In college I did a dual concentration, overloaded courses, had a triple instrumental focus, ensembles, campus ministry, and somehow dated in there somewhere. I've spent years teaching in public school, at church, private lessons, and balancing life... My confession is, I LIKED all of it. I've had the opportunity to run life fast, and I've enjoyed it.
The truth is, the busy life is the easy one. So, I'm at the beginning of a new chapter, and I sense the need for some attention. I may always have a mental to-do list, places to go, people to see... But in what I'm naming "the busy life," there is always a sense of running - something to run for, and something else to run from.When my to-do list is long, and I know someone is expecting me in an hour and that someone will appreciate the task I'm about to complete, motivation seems pretty easy to cultivate; gratification is always within reach, and since something always has to be released from the to-do list, I can conveniently ignore the things I don't want to think about or deal with. Overall, the fast-pace feels fun. It's self-propelling; thus, the ease inherent in the pace (though I've been known to whine to make sure the full extent of the accomplishments squished into a day are fully known). If all I'm doing is running, the sense of satisfaction behind long lists of accomplishments is fleeting. At best, it just spurs you to generate more short-term highs. So I've been thinking about the intentional pursuit of relationship, for honest thoughts finished all the way out, and then action. What I think I'm saying I want - for myself, for my children.... is MORE. More depth. More real. I want a higher bar of honesty in our daily living. I want more of what God has prescribed for life, more of what He purposed for us.
So here comes the DREAM. It's another line in that song I mentioned that struck me a long time ago... "I can think of a time when families all lived together - four generations in one house, and the table was full of good food, and friends and neighbors. That's not how we like it now." That thought really got to me. What our culture reacts to when we think of "four generations in one house," is the rub. The encroachment on our leisure, the accountability, the plain old annoyances. But everyone together - sharing, perceiving, really seeing, and honestly enjoying... it's the type of experience I've recognized in my life as truly good. I recognize that our culture does not value that picture at all, and that people my age may think I'm crazy. In a short time period, generations have grown far apart - even forgotten how to interact. But that's not what I want. Multi-generationalism is rich. In my family and church body, I've valued the opportunity to be known by people who will slow down long enough to really see me. Often, it's the people looking in from a different life stage that can give me the best vantage point. I want my kids to grow up knowing that, too.
Dream, come true. This summer Cary and I tried to buy a house. At the last second, (because of a structural report we're grateful for), it fell through. We had less than 2 weeks to find a place to live. Not long before we found out about the problems inherent in our "dream" house, my mom accepted a teaching position here in town. (What?!) Living in this area has been a long time dream of she and my dads,' and for many reasons, (grandbabies not included, but oh, what a perk!), my family decided to take the leap. They had a month to find a place to live. See where I'm going with this?? All of a sudden, we were ALL shopping for a rental, in the same town. All of a sudden, there was the opportunity for this little idyllic dream that I'd floated around in my head to be made tangible, and the avoidable question: did I mean it? Where's the line between my perceptions, ideals, and what I really want?
So here's the picture: In an hour or two, my family will pull up in a U-haul, ready to unload. And we'll do life; one roof, many generations, friends, stories, good food, time; passing my youngest siblings in the hallway, my kids on the laps and gaining from the knowledge of their grandparents daily, my house twice as unlikely to be picked up the way I like, my flaws twice as likely to be exposed. It's all part of the dream. My prayer is that this circumstance I've dreamed of (that sort of fell out of the sky) would be God's to continue to use. My challenge is to slow down. To continue to care about the parts of life that matter, and to not choose to be distracted by the things that don't. To not run away from the things it'd be easier to just not think about. To be open and available, and to GIVE my time instead of holding to lists of what I want to do with it.
The best thing to do with a dream? Give it back to God. Lord, make good of whatever it is You are beginning in bringing our two households together. See it to completion. I'm so thankful, and we trust You.
(The song.) "Every Minute," Sara Groves.