She wants pierced ears and Mexican food with a side of real Mexican atmosphere, her words not mine, and so we pack the car and head west…
All the way to Raleigh.
I drive while the Man reads and the kids grumble in the backseat.
The miles are too many, they say. When are we going to be there?
I turn up the music and they pipe down, but they’re right. The miles are too many.
I count mile markers and exit signs until we find the place we’re looking. It’s more like a Mexican flea market and less like a cantina, but the girl is beaming from ear to ear and so I smile, too.
We eat chips and salsa and bowls of queso like we’ve not eaten for days and we eat cupcakes so covered in icing that our teeth turn all shades of pink and blue and we laugh in the middle of the afternoon.
We drive across town to the fancy mall, to the place she’s chosen to have pierce her ears, and it’s bumper to bumper traffic in the parking lot. Cars move fast and the people move faster and the small ones hold onto my legs, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds.
I look at the Man and he looks at me and we smile because we like the buzz of people and the rush of the crowd and the smell of Gloria Jean’s Coffee Bean. We like the way the people appear to have somewhere to go and someone to see and things to buy.
It’s somewhat exhilarating, this hustling and bustling and frenzied shopping.
But only for about half an hour.
After a couple of trips on the escalator, a 2 minute ear-piercing, one 5 minute trip into the Disney store, an 8 minute layover in Justice and a breakdown in the middle of the madness, the exhilaration turns into a need to escape.
So we do.
We load the car and I drive the miles home. The miles home seem longer and I’m lost in thought and I can’t figure what do with the rumbling in the pit of my soul.
I am changing and my kids are changing and this place we now call home is seeping into our pores and we are no longer who we used to be.
We’re slowing down and breathing deep and for the first time in my life, I think we’re rich.
I know we’re rich.
And it bothers me.
The babies sleep and the Man and I drink coffee to stay awake and although I can escape from Williams-Sonoma and all of their copper pots and mouth-watering sea salts and beautiful linens and pottery, I cannot escape the unsettled feeling in the pit of my soul that something else is off kilter in my life.
This morning, I flip pages in Romans and then flip back through pages in 7 and I’m struck with how jacked up our life really is.
I could write a small book on all the ways we have desecrated our planet by just the trash we throw away.
Or about how the hundreds of pounds of food we toss into the garbage every year could feed a small tribe somewhere east of here.
We don’t observe the Sabbath.
We buy clothes we don’t need because they’re on sale.
We eat stuff that I used to think was food and drink Diet Coke like water and we live on sugar. (For real y’all. You can write that somewhere: The Harris Clan lives on sugar.)
The kids have more toys than they’ll ever play with and they still want more and in my sick mind, I’ve equated being a good parent with providing them things that will entertain them. I know- I’m sick.
Hours of social media use and television watching and movie going probably add up to at least a year. Maybe 2.
We’re a disgusting lot.
And I am done with being disgusting.
So, I’ll enter my own form of 7, my own sort of experimental mutiny against our excess, so that the miles between us and the kids down the street are not so many.
And so that Jesus becomes always more and that we become always less.