The past two months my family and I walked a slim line and close shave to some harrowing past circumstances and decisions. It was all the sudden the same and completely different, renewed.
It was scary and exciting. I didn’t know how or where to begin to write to you all. “Traveling mercies” can be like the gift of twilight, no other time of day like it, stillness shattering through the busy hum of the day. Being lead through gift, a.k.a. changes and challenges, by the hand of Mercy can leave us unpacking what it all means for years to come.
For now, I can only begin writing to you from the “grassy places beside the calm waters” that come along the way. Trying to take in the grand and rugged beauty of the landscape and convey it through word or lens has been beyond my reach. I had to rest.
Working to unpack, and recreate “home” for my family in a city where I’m continually passing myself on the highway (I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment) it occurred to me that many of you and I are joined by our “traveler’s hearts”, an ache to explore, whether it be beyond our physical borders or more importantly amidst our interior landscape.
I feel like I’ve always been an explorer, contented almost singularly by the idea of “going”. Growing up, my family’s summer “vacation” mostly meant one thing: I-70. THE highway from here to there. By “there”, I mean where our family was. We lived on one end or the other and traveled to see those we didn’t currently live near. The monotony at times occurred to me, but the excitement and enjoyment of family overcame.
Now, I live smack in between “here” and “there” right off I-70 in St. Louis, Missouri. I “see” the little-girl me passing by a hundred times in trips to see my grandma & grandpa. I also see the wide-eyed big-girl me moving away from family for the first time with my husband and firstborn 8 month old son. I wince to also remember the disenchanted me running away from hard situations and wondering where life could possibly lead next, down the same highway.
Then, again, little girl me appears. Knowing this road was a main artery in my life but not knowing at all, not even a little bit. So much history, so much now-ness.
How could I have imagined this highway that I traveled, for more reasons than I can recount, later being a couple blocks from “home”.
How could I have known when I drove through this town one stormy day barely a year ago that future-me was already here?
And all that is clear now? All that seems less fuzzy now? It is. And it isn’t. Especially when sitting at one of a hundred different stoplights in a new city where I can’t see beyond that place. I’ve never been there.
We don’t need to know what is over the horizon or understand what will happen to all we have left behind. The most we can know in this grand story unfolding one highway and corner at a time is that it is grand.
What kind of story have we found ourselves in? Where does this highway lead? Are we caught in between or seen from above? These pondering and pursuing questions must come and tire us with their levity so that the quiet places in between will become more and undergird us with substance as real as hope itself.
Hope says yes to those tired moments in between when we pick up the iron and clear the wrinkles from one more shirt that no one will appreciate and no one will say, “My! look at that un-wrinkled shirt that was surely a mess this morning, but is now made wearable.”
No one blesses the hands that ironed that now un-wrinkled shirt, just the way I didn’t bless that weary daddy towing the minivan from behind the moving truck I’ve passed on the highway a thousand and one times before.
We don’t think of the world inside the mind and heart of the woman walking down the hall from the bankruptcy lawyer’s office as we walk from the museum or salon or grocery store carrying our own loads.
We don’t know how. Even if it is true that we’d nearly cry if someone stopped to appreciate one of the (hundred) unseen things we do in our day.
I am convinced we can’t see ourselves let alone others most of the time. We keep on though, we must. We must drive the weary road, pick up the iron again and stay strong of mind and heart as we walk from any number of offices we never thought we’d find ourselves in. Quietly.
Quietly, we mend the tears and boo-boos, brush their teeth, clean up the spilled milk, and wipe down the toilets, one more time, a day at a time. And it matters.
Quietly, we must find the in-between places, the resting places where the soul fills even what it can’t describe, understand or fully see.
We’ll probably never be thanked or seen or understood exactly—perhaps not even by ourselves, often our worst enemy. We won’t meet ourselves passing on the highway or realize our past-self in our now-self or see that our future-self would “get it” one day.
We don’t have to know or see all that to trust, to know, that this story unfolding one highway at a time, or the same highway at a time, IS grand.
But in the quiet-in-between moments when you are choosing to love what must be done because you have a love greater than for yourself, let it be known to you deep deep deep inside: this is good.
How good is this work of your hands? So very good. This work that no one will see, consider, appreciate or even know, so, so, good. How much does it matter? It matters everything.
It’s not the loudest, brightest, funniest, most talented or popular or cleverest that will lead the strongest, it’s you and me, in the quiet hours. We lead all those who find a home in our heart; our children or our students, our co-workers who depend on us—our people.
In the unsung hero hours while the kids are sick in the middle of the night, in the paper work, mucking the barn, unclogging the toilet, or behind the desk day after day.
It’s in all the weary, unglamorous work that we do because we love. It’s the picture you wouldn’t think most likely to post on social media. That’s where you are strong and heroic, for real.
These past two months have been such a personal revolution I have wondered what I could offer here in this space, to you, my friends. I find it here again, it is “simply” in what we are learning, in what we are living, that we can most effectively pass on.
What are you learning and living in your “travels”? I’d love to hear.
I hope to meet you here again, more often, and soon. In the mean time, I’m here, living and learning and loving, quietly, with you—because it matters, everything.
Hi there, I’m Raynna and I’m glad you are here.
We’re all here having a human experience. We need each other. I’m a photographer/writer searching for and sharing courage, creating as I grow in learning how to follow where Mercy leads. I invite you to join me in the pursuit: sign up to receive my articles directly to your inbox HERE.