On Knowing

It is evening, and the day’s fullness winds its way through my shoulders and down the sides of my heart.

It was a good day, one full of tiny validations. 
Tiny is fine, isn’t it? The small things; those are the ones that make the difference, that warm the heart, that fill the void.
So today’s tiny things, in backwards order:
This post, which touched me so deeply in a newly raw place. Recently I have become friends with a woman who wears the label “autistic”. She defies all of my preconceived notions regarding autism; a college graduate, gainfully employed as an educator, engaged deeply in the world around her. Knowing her – and I mean knowing her, not just knowing about her – has deepened my understanding of what it means to be on the fringes of what most of us take for granted. I’ve learned so much from my friend, who is patiently willing to explain to me why I should not throw my arms around her in wild abandon, why I cannot prescribe long, complicated passages of reading, why I need to set aside hyperbole for a fact-based, uncomplicated sentence now and again. I love my friend, and she has changed my life. Knowing about this helps me see how much it matters, this being aware. I long to do better. Read this and you will understand how much it matters.
I have other friends and acquaintances who find themselves on the fringes of what we easily take for granted; life, love, relationships, acceptance, authenticity…. Family and friends who are attracted to and in relationships with people of the same sex, who are tentatively, carefully willing to engage in dialogue about what their lives and hearts and desires are really like; they are helping me to see that knowing and not just knowing about is more helpful and more honoring and, I believe, a lot more like Jesus might be. I’m grateful that conversations are happening that get past the yelling and posturing and flinging of Bible verses – on BOTH sides. It is messy – boy, is it – but I cannot help but think that Jesus would wade right into this mess, and that he calls me, as his follower, to do the same.
I have a stoop, two tiny steps on my front porch. My future son-in-law painted these steps yesterday. Tonight I perched on that fresh paint, the humid air settling around me, the wildness of my front-yard garden in full display. My hostas are growing as best they can, in spite of the fact that the deer make a nightly pilgrimage to devour them down to the quick. I enjoy what I can, while I can. I gazed past the flash of lightning bugs and watched my husband circle the yard of his mother on the riding mower. I thought, it is these, the little things, as I watched the glowing lights inside and out and considered the deep, cogent peace I feel knowing that family is just yards away. My mother-in-law lives in our front yard. This is a good thing.
Church today, as it is every Sunday; but today, something more, with less. We sang, a smaller band by necessity and scheduling challenges. There was space in the room today, from the platform to the back of the room, and in that space I heard voices singing, surrounding all that we offered, and it was so encouraging. So powerful. So defining for me, as one whose heart beats loudly to the drum of praise and worship. It was surreal; frankly, that’s not a bad thing when you seek an encounter with a supernatural, omniscient, omnipresent being. Knowing that we gather to worship and sing and praise God each week is one thing; hearing it rise up all around me is another thing completely. It was an unexpected, unplanned thing; redolent of deep, intense blessing.
The dinner table, a true southern meal.
Dinner this afternoon, with the extended arms of a family that will only grow larger in the coming years. My mom, my dad, my husband, his mom, kids and friends and shared joy over southern cooking. These things, I return to over and over again. We create traditions and memories that are layered upon other memories: 

Remember the time we ate ribs at the beach, that first year at the house? Remember the huge pile of bones? Remember how David ate fifteen of them? Remember this hutch, this piece of furniture, these glasses, this recipe? 

Remember how we talk, how we banter, how we are with one another? Remember this things? 

We know one another, this family of mine. There are surprises here and there, but we are known, and we are settled. And when we open ourselves to it, new things slip in and feel like they belong.

It is the little things, the tiniest of motions and the vaguest recollections. We are united in the smallness of life. 
That is a good thing, full of grace.
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