The rain came in sheets, weighing down the leaves and rushing down the gutters of the house. The air turned cooler as the storm arrived, a welcomed blessing to be enjoyed with a hot cup of peppermint tea I have sitting nearby.
Days later and miles away the outside temperature gauge reads 97 degrees as I park the car and walk into the eclectic restaurant my kids have chosen as our meeting spot for a quick dinner in Scottsdale. The warm temperature is actually welcomed after sitting in my mom’s cold hospital room for most of the day.
We choose an outside table and order five types of bruschetta and three glasses of wine.
Welcoming the now, the moments that are, not the moments that were or that will be has been a steady invitation from Jesus this month.
I find myself wanting to resist the invitation, not welcoming it. The resistance often starts with my judgements against what “is”, my feelings, the reality of circumstances, the theme repeating itself, or the disappointment, it feels like a “no” inside of me.
I felt it working on this post, sitting down multiple times to write and wanting to have something light, perky, positive to share and instead finding that I have no light, perky stories bubbling up in my heart right now. And, I only have the now, what is real.
As I sat with Allison and Steve tonight being present in the now, the conversation was not light although it was peppered with their trademark laughter and playfulness with me and one another.
The wine arrived, Allison’s Pinot Noir, Steve’s Cabernet Sauvignon and my Chardonnay and Allison was the first to raise her glass as Steve said, “So Mom did you ever think you’d be sitting at a table in Scottsdale drinking wine with two of your kids?” We clinked our glasses as I answered, “No.” And for just a moment the now held both the past and present as I savored what was happening, an unexpected experience with my very adult kids in the city where I grew up, where Mark and I met and were married.
As we sat and sipped our wine and munched those five different bruschettas, we talked about what is real, for them and for our family. They showed me their text threads with their twelve year old sister, sweet and funny exchanges that are keeping them connected with her across the miles and years that separate them.
There are things that are true about us, who we are, what we love, and why we love it that remain despite the many things that have come to tatter the fabric that holds our family together.
Suffering, hardship, betrayal, deep disappointment, and illness have marked the past two years. Working to steal joy and leave us fragmented. It is the reality that I resist because it has felt relentless. I have wanted to turn the page, start a new chapter, find a fresh color of ink for what is being written.
And under a warm Arizona sky with a tangerine sunset tonight the story was real, resistance was gone and the ink of a good story was flowing, a story I welcome. A story that began under the same sky on warm summer night thirty years ago when I said “yes” to taking a walk with Mark Johnson. As I sat with the kids I found that my heart was feeling less tight and the space seemed to be opening up again to welcome the story that is still being written, the real story.
There is still ink in the pen and the color is good.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). She is the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for 29 years, she is mother to five kids. After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.