We’re not often alone together and so we run away for 2 days to remember what it feels like to be us.
We escape just to stick our toes in the sand and feel the rush of wind through our hair. We escape to sit and soak and sun.
And we escape to be alone in our skin with one another.
The kids are just old enough to wade out into the surf while the Man and I read in lounge chairs and take turns cat napping. I read a book on prayer and he reads Acts and we watch the tide roll in and out for hours.
It’s funny the things you think about when you’re out of your place,when no one is pressing in for more time,more popsicles, or more air for the basketball. The mind is free to go where it will and so I think on home and school and Piggly Wiggly.
I know. Odd, huh?
Who thinks about the Piggly Wiggly, ever, but especially when one’s hiney is on the beach somewhere?
I read a few pages, stare out into that hazy space between the ocean and the sky, and then read some more but I can’t focus on monastic prayers without home creeping into my thoughts.
What’s my deal?
It’s warm out, not overbearing, but warm enough that we decide to eat lunch indoors. The girls shimmer,salt water dripping from their long curls, and the boys are pink with sun. We cross the sleepy street to the beach cottage and make sandwiches.
“I think I wanna go to Parker,” my timid one says. “Not New Life.”
I’m smearing mayo on bread and she’s slicing cheese and the rest of the kids are on the porch, drip drying.
“What do you mean?” I ask her. She’s my one eat up with fear and anxiety and insecurity. My second born. My one who is bashful and shy and quietly compassionate.
She shrugs her shoulders. “I don’t know. I’d just rather go to school with Nikki and the kids that live around us than go to school with kids who don’t know me,” she says.
I carry on with the sandwich making, not making a big deal out of her announcement. “Sounds like a plan,” I say.
She looks at me and I grin.
On the inside, I’m partly cheering and partly wondering what this shift will mean to our family and neighborhood.
And I’m altogether sure that this invitation to public school, in our neighborhood, where things are more gritty than pretty, is one that has nothing to do with the horrors of public school and everything to do with how we choose to make a whole life here.
On Sunday, after we’ve cleaned the cottage and packed the sand in our duffle bags, we pack ourselves back into the Suburban and head home.
The kids banter back and forth and I slip in my ear buds to escape one more time before we pull up on Avent street. Music is the art that speaks to me and I need to hear a word or ten.
And I do. I hear some words.
Choose the broken over the beautiful because the broken need the Jesus you have.
And I close my eyes because that’s much easier said than done.
We pull up to the front of the house at a little before 5 and the kids scramble out to stretch their legs.
White paper flutters by the welcome mat and the last Harris baby picks it up.
“Mama! You got a card!” she calls to me.
The kids meet her on the porch to find out who it’s from.
“It’s from Nikki and Hunter and Hallie,” my oldest one says. “It’s for Mother’s Day.”
I sorta melt on the inside.
And I get it, what my second one already gets:
We’re family here. And family goes to school together.
I make it half way around the city library before I let this Baptist-turned-Bible girl get charismatic on the sidewalk. There’s a man mowing the grass and he sees me before I see him and he laughs.
I smile, glad it’s still dark, sure it’s not seen as much as I think he’s seen. A girl can hope, right?
And I let Jesus talk to me about the things I think I know and I make space for Him to change my thinking.
And this song,by Phil… If you don’t stand up and shout, then maybe you should pray THE prayer. One mo’ time.