Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My People

A glorious evening full of sunshine this summer, in what now feels like ages ago.

One of the hardest parts of moving is leaving people behind. Call it what you want: a village, a safety net--it is the community of people who help when there’s a schedule conflict, who make you dinner when you’d otherwise be home alone, who call to check on you when they haven’t heard from you in a while.

And I have them, again.

The last two moves have been easier than most because we were moving back: back to family, back to old friends, back to a church community from the past and a handful of relationships maintained well over time. The difference was that last time I moved back to my old hometown, and this time we moved to his. I had plenty of contacts, and knew plenty of first names, but this turned out to be surface façade that held all sorts of potential and absolutely no depth. Relationships take time and effort and the sharing of burdens and joys. Mostly, time.

This morning sixteen women and a dozen children showed up at my house while I wiped my daughter clean of her morning yogurt mask. They show up every Wednesday, and we study together and share bits of our stories: the good, the bad, the real. Some of the kids play downstairs; some of them crawl over legs, flip through board books and Bibles left unattended, and rock in the small rocking chair I refinished this summer. Most of the women I see every Sunday, though a few of the others I know through play groups, or were invited from churches across town. All of them find value in our shared time, or they wouldn’t bother—cutting out time from a busy schedule, getting parked-in on my isolated driveway by late arrivals, sitting on stools when we run out of chairs, and shielding their eyes when the sun shines brightly through my coverless windows.

Later this afternoon a friend called and offered to take my daughter during cross country practice so I could run without a jogger—the same friend who had invited me over for dinner this evening, knowing Curtis was working all night.

I basked in blue skies and sunshine, running through trails up the side of a mountain with the team I coach—trails impassible by a jogging stroller—for one glorious hour. I watched for roots and avoided mud bogs. I listened and shared in a conversation winding as often as the trail. When we hit the pavement at the end of the run, covering the short mile that takes us from the wilderness to the high school, I couldn’t help but be struck by how things have changed.

The season of loneliness that comes with relocating can be disheartening, but it can also be very good. In choosing people, in choosing activities, you have to consider again what is most important. And when your community comes together again, it is even more precious than before.

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