Alarm rings… sky still dark… almost packed…
wiping sleepy eyes while exchanging pajamas, warm from slumber,
for fleece, jersey, shoes, watch.
A drowsy Good Morning, Lord
spoken from these tired but grateful lips,
This is the day…please, would You keep us safe?
Toting luggage from one room to another,
lady feline moves out of the way, mournfully,
knowing the signs of a solitary week ahead,
with house (and mice) all to herself;
extra food and water placed inside and out;
gopher patrol wakes up as door opens
unexpectedly, at such an hour.
Bags and more bags filled with necessary paraphernalia
for city life, and the holiday
(one week of clean fingernails, soft hands—and no bugs)…
Snacks and fruit, sandwiches, water,
gifts for mom and sis and others in our circle of family and friends.
Car starts… sky still dark… trunk and back seat bulging,
refusing to hold more…
on front porch, a last Good-bye is whispered to the youngest kitten,
held in arms of the one who found her,
We’ll be back… I promise… don’t go away, she assures.
Lights off, doors closed, doors locked,
headlights’ beam brightening what darkness conceals
along the winding country road,
a trip we’ve made many times
between two states divided by one river…
in this together life,
this sacred family life,
sharing hours and days together
(train rides, trips to the zoo, shopping, eating, singing, cousins playing cowboys),
with the few individuals whose faces and names and heritage resemble ours.
On the road… sky still dark… settling into seats…
We get to watch the sunrise, she says.
Yes… Sunrise over the Sierra… best part of an early morning departure;
No sign yet of life in pastures, barns… too early even for ranchers…
a few of nighttime’s diamond jewels still shine, yet dimly…
Miles away from beds now cold,
a thin glimmer spreads pale light across easterly peaks,
silhouetted black against faintest creamy pink,
reaching farther with each new stroke of the Master Painter’s brush…
The last tiny star winks her farewell to eyes open this early.
The greater star making its arrival,
announcing in gentle hues, in unspoken tones, the beginning of a new day—
And we are en route.
To the spreading metropolis we called home,
For a time in years gone by—
During our wilderness wanderings,
a detour through the desert,
after God’s leading took us
through ministry’s refining process of another kind.
But, she says after spending half her childhood there,
If we hadn’t moved, we would have never met…
Something I’ve often reminded myself of—
Yes, I reply, it is true…
In that place of severest trial
God provided friendships of the sweetest kind.
And lessons, challenges,
for stretching, learning, growing,
strengthening spiritual muscles,
gaining spiritual insight,
sensitivities calloused just enough to prevent injury,
but keeping hearts tender, to continue serving (hopefully)
with compassion and grace,
our character becoming stronger, less jagged and more gracious (again, hopefully)
as years recede.
Then another day came, after months of praying, pleading,
offering ourselves for His service still…
The short caravan:
one borrowed truck, one moving van, one minivan,
a couple friends who offered to help, Grandpa, the Preacher and me,
two kids, a devoted dog,
and all our worldly goods conveyed on wheels across these same roads—
while our family traveled, temporarily homeless
with one dwelling sold and the other, sitting long empty,
waiting for skilled hands
and keen eyes to transform a humble,
neglected house and a plot of ground into a home—
to begin again, to start anew.
snowcapped peaks, clouds low, still heavy with moisture,
in sky now wide and bright,
rolling hills, desert sand, ancient volcanic residue,
train tracks and tunnels, Joshua trees, faint rainbow, roadrunner,
and crossing the river on a road leading us to arms waiting
to embrace and enjoy a brief time of family love…
Mountains of another landscape blackening
against the desert’s sinking sun… sky once again dark…
gifts in hand,
and as the door opens,
the familiar scent of Grandma’s house (with her unmistakable smile)
greets these weary travelers.