It’s the flavor of lovingly fried chicken, crumpled recipes handed down that are barely decipherable, egg salad sandwiches on Sunday nights, and the sound of green beans in a pressure cooker on Saturday afternoons.
It’s in the lingering. It’s not scheduled but it’s purposefully planned. It allows space for boredom and has no space for curation.
It’s quiet and yet it’s music sings in the dark night of the soul. It’s plain, but it’s simple beauty is ornate.
It takes loneliness to point you to it. You only embrace it after you’ve busied yourself with the things you guess that are important.
This will be marked as the year that the intangible things that can only be learned with time began to settle into my soul. These are things not learned by a curated feed on google. These are often things that are experienced, rejected by the confidence of “knowing better” with the novel ideas and adventure of youth, and, with time, adopted wholeheartedly in surrender when you finally see the wisdom of the “old road” truth. These are things that are not taught in books, in seminars, in schools. These are “caught” truths that shore up one’s life.
It’s not quantitative…it’s qualitative and repetitive. And, in the end, it’s what makes up real and true and meaningful life.
Before this year, I saw the rhythms of community as fluffy. I saw recipes as disposable. I saw marking time with friends as a luxury that “must be nice.” I saw lingering time as self-indulgent. I did not say these things out loud, but they were obvious in my choices and my assumptions. Before this year, tasks that marked productivity, ministry and movement won out because they were “allowed” in my definitions.
After this year, everything is reframed. I think back to the weekly rhythms of my childhood and see the purposes that marked them. What felt busy began to take on a different purpose. I was transported to dinner on the grounds and Wednesday night suppers and Music Camps and realized they were more than tasks and activities…they built a familial community. I think back to lingering around a table after breakfast and see the worth in it. There was nothing more important to “get to” than the being of “there.” I intimately understood the reasons for camps and retreats and unscheduled activities.
The picture of this truth really began to be clear to me as I sat at the funeral of a woman who was like a second mom to me growing up–Kenzie. Her home and presence represented to me all the intangibles, and only at 46 did that become clear. I have intimate memory of special foods she would make–not fancy but so so good. Markers of childhood and life. I think about the things she had for me to play with–things left over from her children–not fancy but so comforting. I remember each one of them–a lego like set that had lattice windows, an old Ker Plunk game. Week by week, I retrieved them from the cabinet and placed them back. Week by week she welcomed me with a place to land, to be known ever so quietly. She never stood on a stage to demand attention or have a following. The people who truly matter to our lives never do.
The things I remember from childhood involved “presence” and “experience.” The things that are impactful and shaping are not shiny and flashy. They involve laughter, simple food, good conversation, and presence. They are repeated over time. As I look back over life, I realize the places where those spaces were prioritized, and it brought an urgency to prioritize those places in the rhythm of our family. It takes the pressure off of many areas today as far as productivity and worth, and it also presses the need to be very purposeful about the intangibles. That is the easiest to let slide. Space, time and rhythms of presence make a life and ignoring these sacred spaces leads to loneliness and regret.