The remnants of my French manicure I paid for before we left for our trip is still on two of my fingernails. The pinky and ring finger of my left hand have off-white reminders of my time abroad.
I refuse to pick off the polish because when all the gel is gone, so means our trip is also finished. Never mind we’ve been back in the States for a full three weeks.
Like the stubborn remnants of faded glamour on my fingertips, I’ve been resistant to let go and settle back in to our routine. Much of this year was focused on dreaming, planning and executing our trip.
Coming home, returning to work, accepting the quiet reminders of things now behind us have been a bit disappointing. What will be next? – is the question nagging at me now.
Next can look like elections, applications, piles of dead things turning to detritus.
Next could look like holiday planning and juggling schedules and muddled opinions and the huge ache of missing people no longer at the table.
Next might look like playing family diplomat (h/t Anne Lamott for that phrase) and navigating intense emotion and breezes of grief.
Next feels unsure, uncharted, unmarked.
I just finished reading Anne Lamott’s newest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope.
Her short essays on the important things in life feel like someone rubbing my back when I’m sad. A mix of there-there with a “I see you … these things you think and feel are not, in fact, crazy.” I love her writing and outlook on life.
Lamott doesn’t put her head in the sand and pretend it isn’t bad out there. Nor does she refuse to participate in the mysterious wonder this world offers. Beauty, majesty, and magic are always available when we slow down to look.
Her next? She’s getting married. And encouraging all of us, to lift up our chin as we swim in the churning uncertainty of national dread. It’s so easy to tip into dread.
When we boarded the plane at Heathrow, settling in for the nine hour flight home, Dylan turned to me and said, “I don’t want to go home because we don’t know what’s next.”
I responded, “but what if what’s next is better than what is. We never know what’s coming round the corner.”
I’m choosing to believe what’s coming round the corner might just be beautiful too. This act of believing is much harder than anticipating disaster and doom.
It’s risky to dream and hope – we could have our hearts broken yet again.
My friend from high school is often repeating to me, “Our biggest problem when we envision the future is we never view God in it.” Easier to believe we are all alone in the unknown future – surely God stays behind in our past, forcing us to doggy-paddle ahead with our heads just-above water.
Hearts break. In big, shocking, crackling ways.
Lightning strikes, politicians hate, cars crash, organs fail, people hurt.
People hurt so stinkin’ much.
And yet, the bravest thing we can do, is believe something beautiful is coming next. God is here, now, with us. And God will be with us down the road too. This truth gives me hope.
While I’ve been wallowing about Europe and upcoming elections and political ads, creamy soup bubbled on the stove, water splashed in the lap pool, and my brother sat next to me at breakfast. Sheets were washed with clean water and soap. Marigolds welcomed back spirits on the Day of the Dead. Dogs gave me kisses and people did too. Folks filled out their ballots and made plans to get to the polls.
On Halloween, I answered the door at 8:45 pm. A small Batman stood at the stoop quietly saying, ‘trick or treat.’ When I offered him all of the candy left in our bowl, he politely declined.
He turned down a bowl full of treats and kept on walking down the street.
Perhaps, he was waiting instead, to see what beautiful treats waited at the house next door.