December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
It’s hard to think of just one moment…So much of my day-to-day is racing from one moment to the next, from kids to work to kids to hubby to work to sleep (barely) and then again! But in the midst of the racing there is so much aliveness – how could i be a mother of boys without aliveness? Those moments in our world when we have cranked up the rock n roll and danced around our living room? The boys learning the words to our favorite songs, strumming plastic guitars and banging on drums, laughing and jumping and rocking out! The light streaming through our front bay window and the music blasting. My throat burning and abs tight from laughing and singing and dancing. Did I ever think this would be a part of my regular living? Did I ever imagine life could be so brilliant and full?
I think too of those few moments when I walk in silence from the pulpit to my seat after preaching on things so difficult and challenging to myself – let alone the feeling of speaking truth to power and the powerful. Those moments are sometimes painful i feel so alive – heart pumping, stomach turning. The truth is, people assume that the nervousness of preaching comes before we preach, but often for me it comes in those brief moments after – since now those words are out there and cannot be taken back. They’re gone. And as soon as they’re spoken I have no more control over how they are recieved. When I take big risks, like the day i preached on bullying and LGBT young people, and our need to welcome them into the church, to be a part of a hopeful future for them and our world… or the days I share deep personal stories, or the days I push past the fear of offending and into what I truly believe the Gospel is calling us to do and to be. Those days, the moments after I preach and during our sung response are both frightening and invigorating. This is why I dread it, this is why I love it, this is why I preach.
But even with how much I love my boys, and how much I love my ministry, the moment from 2010 that seems to hum with life is a moment from our trip to shenandoah: perhaps because it was one of the few moments that i had enough space in my mind and heart to take notice of the aliveness. It was our last night of 4 nights backpacking in Shenandoah National Park, where J and I had traveled to celebrate 10 years of marriage. We had spend the 4 preceding days hiking through trees turning aflame with fall colors, 6-8 miles a day on a loop that swung and climbed through old and wizened mountains. I find it takes a couple of days for the buzz of technology and culture to melt off. So finally, by the time this night came. We felt…thoroughly melted.
We had set up camp at the top of a deep ravine that dropped to a beautiful waterfall. We had been down to the falls twice, to scout it out and then to pump water, and we were back at camp. My muscles felt sore, but strong. J was cooking dinner on a small cookstove, perched about 20 feet from me on a large boulder beyond which glowed the most amazing view through the trees. The next ridge over was painted with orange and yellow and red leaves. The sun descending in the late day lit everything on fire. I watched him work his magic with the stove, and sat to sketch the scene with a small set of colored pencils and a sketchbook I brought along. I watched how the lines of trees framed my view, how J’s back rested against the air around him. The air was crisp and sharp in my lungs. I could smell the pesto and pasta cooking as it mixed with the smells of forest and dry leaves. I felt at home in the world. Connected to my boys event though they were miles away. Connected with the man who loved to simply walk and sit in the woods with me for days. Connected with who I was at my very core. I felt in love with the world. I felt grounded. I felt alive.