"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, October 21, 2012

When you pray in your car and someone says hello

“It’s like Pinterest.”

Blue light fell upward through tree branches to touch emerging stars, colored floodlights converting trees into outdoor chandeliers. In Florida, you can have late-night bonfires in October and not wear a jacket.

The trees are still green (dead now, in Minnesota), sun so strong that this afternoon it actually could be seen above the treetops at noon. On our Sibley County hobby farm not far from Canada, sometimes the sun wouldn’t make it above the oaks.

But the sun is gone now, regardless, unless you count the bonfire. Over on the table there are a hundred handmade s’more packets—two graham crackers, one marshmallow, three squares of Hershey’s milk chocolate—and of course the boys are trying to roast marshmallows on their two-foot roasting sticks and seem surprised the fire is hot. Four-foot flames usually are.

Two hours ago, I sat in my Corolla in the Meadowbrook Church parking lot and prayed. I didn’t know anyone at this college-twenty-something-singles group. It would be awkward, maybe. I'd never been to this church and missed the turn because the sun was in my eyes. I checked my hair. A girl pulled in next to me in a blue van. She looked normal. I thought of Jesus, and my status as His daughter, and I got out of the car.

What is it that makes me insecure, afraid? I knew waiting for me were beautiful people, friendly, open, and waiting for me. Yet I sit in my car and pray, do not claim the promises of my King, and act not like His daughter but like an outcast. You enter the sanctuary, stand back by the chairs, pretend to look in your purse, and get some coffee because it will occupy your time, always wondering when to step forward and introduce or when to not bother them and stay back. You become tangled so tight in your own thoughts, and life becomes hard.

Until someone says hello.

And so does another.

And another.

And now I stand under Christmas lights strung through the trees, by the crockpot with the boiled peanuts and the bag of half-frozen hot dogs, and there is Amber, Tiffany, Jordan, Carissa, Michael, Quentin, Jeremy, Jessica, and so many more.

And they all said hello.