dusk settles on our shoulders, cloaking the earth with thick, cool air.
the kids scramble after their father and a leather ball, giggling from deep inside their bellies. to them he is a giant, mythic, indestructible.
their steps crunch the august grass and stir up swarms of buzzing things, bright in the leftover sunlight.
and my heart catches on this scene, the way my husband jostles for position, laughs, talks smack, the way he relishes this game and this evening and this moment flanked by smallish people every bit as much as they do.
he's a good man, this husband of mine. my heart spills over.
they came by with peaches, lisa and her boy, just popped up on my front stoop bearing luminous smiles and bags spilling with fruit.
the kids clamored for an extra snack, so i parted velvet skin and carved flesh into wedges of gold. and with peach juice dribbling sticky down our chins, i thought: this is how God shows up in my everyday, through a knock and a friend and glassine bags heavy with summer globes.
so often i am cleopas fumbling along on the road to emmaus, missing Jesus as he unpacks truth beside me. i inhabit that contradiction of the slow and burning heart all too well.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
it takes a while, but in the end i see it's him. and oh, how my heart ignites.
so today, determined not to let the joy stop with me, i knock on a door and hand a bag to the surprised, then crinkled-into-a-smile face of my neighbor. and i think perhaps God multiplies the peaches and the grace, that the good news is for us all, and that the best part of today is how i am lucky enough to share it.
a certain smallish someone began her educational career today.
[do not believe that face for a minute; she was perfectly giddy about cubbies and mrs. wilhelm and popcorn and pink erasers.]
we stepped outside at ten till seven to grab a few photos, but the sky was pitching a fit and hurling white-hot bolts to the earth, so we promptly stepped back inside. [you can't tell so much since i cranked up the iso, but it was wicked dark out there.]
elle and her olderish brothers guttled pancakes and milk, scrubbed their pearly whites, and wrestled cowlicks into place. they velcroed shoes and slid into backpacks and bounced around the front door with nervous happiness.
and as the sky split and dropped a river of rain, we saw all four kiddos safely onto their sturdy buses.
in case you were taking bets, i didn't cry, but i did miss them all today. every now and again the stillness startled me, and i had to think about where all the quiet was coming from.
right. public education.
but i worked on orders and editing and before i knew it, the clock hit 2:40 and i hiked up the street to meet my littles.
the day was good to them.
[and despite all evidence to the contrary, even He Who Shall Not Be Photographed had a smashing first day of fourth grade.]
they found me straight away, in those early, nervous days of freshman year, before i had time to notice i needed finding.
annie was just my kind of girl: solid, steady, insightful, not given to preening or giggling. she was smart and a musical maven with calves of titanium: i liked her on the spot.
jer had this way of making you happily spill your guts, loyal and disarming, his trademark snigger as obnoxious as it was endearing. he was a dead-ringer for my older brother: i liked him on the spot.
and so we passed notes and spooned cookies and camped under a shelf of kentucky rock. we treaded frigid north atlantic saltwater off the coast of portugal, kicked up spanish dust in a pick up soccer game. we sometimes studied. argued. drowned lettuce. shared homework and half-baked poetry.
and through those formative, fantastic years known as higher education, i watched them flirt and tiff and fall in love. i stood witness in velvet the color of currant wine as they pledged a lifetime of devotion.
now, some dozen plus years later, annie and jer are as beautiful together as ever. and with the arrival of their gorgeous little guy, i had the recent and distinct pleasure of photographing their family.
(isn’t it bizarre and miraculous that we all have lawns to mow and water bills and grown-up jobs? that they trust us with the welfare of smallish, actual human beings?)
so here’s to the rich, simple pleasure of an afternoon spent with dear friends. with people deeply familiar with my eccentricities and flaws, but who still stand shoulder to shoulder with me, ready to take on the messy brilliance of this life.