And I have a hunch lying in my bed there at home in my upstairs bedroom, that I’ll have an eternity of rest that will last me at least a few months.
Nothing really adds up and that’s okay, because that compels me to lie there and savor those moments. I’ll hear the cicadas outside of my window and the low rumble of the air conditioning unit as I watch the sun heating the mid-morning air. I’ll roll over, rub my eyes, and smile. I’ll be content. I’ll be at rest.
I’ll sluggishly pull myself from bed, and descend the steps to hear Mum’s music playing from the bluetooth speaker, while she works in the garden. PJ will already be at his office for work, and I’ll pour myself a cup of coffee. I’ll sit at the kitchen table; Mum will come inside, and we’ll sit and chat. There will be leftover bacon on the table from Mum and PJ’s earlier breakfast, and I’ll gladly partake in that which tastes magnificently of home.
There is a calmness there. My home. Familiar smells. Comfort. Reassurance. It’s not like life is passing by slower, it’s that my mind is at ease, allowing for me to revel in the simplicities of being in this place.
It is a place of utmost privilege that I sit in my home in quiet, Midwest America. To speak of my gratitude would fall short in the weightiness that I intend to ascribe to this reality.
The beauty that surrounds me both in the physical sense as I gaze out the kitchen window, and the aesthetic beauty which seems to float in the air around this place give me pause. There’s a graciousness that was cultivated in our home long before I came along. My young years were saturated in learning, encouragement and space to ask questions without shame and embarrassment. Frequent occasions of laughter at the kitchen table during prayer time was a direct result of catching one another peeking and thereby making accusations of one another while incriminating ourselves. Conflicts were dealt with head-on, and confrontation done with care and honor. Mistakes were made, and hurtful things occurred, but diligence and commitment to life together superseded, outweighed and pulled us through the transgressions. Citizenship, sportsmanship and value for people were instilled as more important virtues than grades and achievements. Carrying ourselves with integrity was of utmost importance, and by watching the lives of my parents, I saw this exemplified daily. Mum and PJ’s care for those in our community through sacrifice and service resounded into the lives of myself and my brothers as we continued to grow up. More laborious and arduous than the work that the garden requires, they laid the foundation for our family to be contributors to the world in such a way that helped to leave it a better place than we found it. No small effort should ever be diminished or looked down upon; rather, it is in the small things that we believe that true and lasting change comes. It can be quite a dispiriting place at times; it’s hard to see the fruit of your labor when working with people in this world. They don’t always yield the results we hope for, and transformation takes time.
And so, when I see the beauty of the garden and patio that Mum and Dad have cultivated – this space of beauty and rest – I see the beauty and rest that I experience in my life due to their labor long before I came into being.
Lives lived in devotion to others often leaves us in ambiguity. Humanity is both incredible and incredibly frustrating. People are what I love, and people are what I avoid. Human relationships can be some of the most powerful agents of love, restoration and resilience, and concurrently points of desolation, heart ache and bereavement.
I remain convinced that humanity, in its true formation, embodies qualities that supersede our existence which has been cluttered with brokenness and hostility. Though the road toward reconciliation is bent with unforeseen obstacles, my hope is reinforced by the examples of folks like my parents who model this to the best of their ability. Their ability to do so comes from outside of themselves, from a place of great faith that I hope to step into more fully as I continue to journey in the direction of service to mankind and the world around me.