The families come in packs of seven, twelve, twenty-two. The mothers hold their pig-tailed babies and the babies hold the tiny flags, waving country pride and gripping a symbol they know nothing about. Maybe I know nothing of it, either.
We gather on the 18th hole of the famous golf course, a line of condos behind us, the harbor before us. We set our chairs up to face the water, spread out our blankets and wait while the sun sinks down slow in front of us.
The couple to our right sits close, whispers long. She holds a sparkler. He holds a beer.
The family behind us throws a football and apologizes every time the youngest wanders over to our blanket. A group of six have their bikes parked to our left. They sit in a circle and laugh about things I can’t hear, things they all have in common, things they all understand.
They all belong, or so it seems.
In the midst of a community gathering like this, it’s easy to see the beloved-ness of others.
It’s easy to watch them with their hot dogs and their jokes and their frisbees from far off and believe they have it easy. The stories of strangers are so convenient, so untainted by the pain of divorce, the threat of cancer, the rejection of friends.
We can’t see the fight they had in the car on the way here.
We don’t hear the voice of the lover who found someone else to love.
We won’t ever know she lost the baby, he lost the job, they lost their mother.
All we see is a group of smiling, hamburger-eating, lemonade-drinking, firework-waiting families on a day in early July.
I am guilty of slapping them all with greener grass, of looking toward the warm yellow glowing windows of their condos, of wondering what it would be like to walk in their easy shoes.
I generally see the world as a half-full glass. But even in the half-full, there is emptiness on top and sometimes that emptiness shows up even as I will it not to.
Brave is a valiant word, but sometimes brave doesn’t look extraordinary. Sometimes, for me, it means digging in my heels right where I am and finding home even though it isn’t what I wished it was, even in the midst of the emptiness, the longing, the soon-but-not-yet.
It is a gift to learn what it means to be with what is, to find contentment in the right-now, to believe God is still good. Being with what is takes courage. Resisting the pull to compare takes belief.
How do you resist this pull in your own life?Leave a Comment