The Eye of the Storm

I do not even know what day it is.

We have a wild whirlwind going on right now – business momentum, home improvement projects, graduations and promotions, including an unexpected trip to urgent care (although with four sons, you’d think that by now I would have learned to keep a couple hours open on my calendar for that particular contingency), the usual stumbles and friction, some laughter and a few tears. We have so much good going on, but does it all have to happen simultaneously? I’m breathless.

Every time I sit down to one project, I think of a dozen others, an email I need to write to the school principal, an item I forgot at the grocery store, a form I meant to submit, a check I need to write and a phone call I should place right now. Before I start any of those, I look to the calendar and see that the day marks my in-law’s 59th wedding anniversary. I make that phone call first. After our conversation, I think about writing a note on my calendar to start planning a party for next year’s 60th anniversary, but decide I am frenzied enough with the tasks at hand. At the moment I am coordinating the logistics for our son’s college graduation. To get our family of six to and from the ceremony in Milwaukee this weekend will require two different airlines and transfers through Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Houston. Plus the trip to urgent care.

I’m dashing around between home and office and doctor, and I have this mental image of all the “hats” I’m wearing – mom, wife, writer, project manager, businesswoman, friend, PTA president, nurse and travel agent –strewn across the backseat, along with an insulated grocery bag, several empty water bottles and a 30-pound bag of dog food. I don’t know why I think I have 20 minutes to stop at church, but something tells me I don’t have time not to.

There are just a few other people here, and the chapel is quiet, except for the creaking of the pew as I sit down. I think, “All right, Jesus, I am here, but I am in a serious time crunch. Inspiration, please, and make it quick!”

My next thought: “Um… Charlotte, this might not be the preferred approach,” although I do believe that God is always pleased by any little movement in His direction. Instead of giving Jesus my litany of assignments, anxieties and hopes, I inhale and try to find silence in all of the noise. I sit still. I close my eyes and exhale. I throw out a mental Do-Not-Disturb sign to the many items on my list clamoring for my attention. Inhale, and exhale again.

Sitting in the hushed, reverent space, I find the still, silent space within. I hear this message: “Keep your eyes on Me.” I feel calmer already, and joyful, even though my to-do list hasn’t decreased and deadlines still loom. I whisper my thanks and return to my tasks, with a renewed confidence that the myriad details will fall into place.

Through the swirl of activity and celebration over the next week, I cling to this simple message and its reminder to keep my focus on the divine. There are travel glitches and delays, and we are exhausted and pressed for time. Yet, we are together and happy and grateful. We have all come a long way to enjoy this moment, and we do. A friend takes a family photograph – my personal favorite from the weekend – including cap and gown and diploma, six smiles and blue sky. In true Midwestern style, seven minutes later, the heavens open and rain pours down, but we are safely dry and warm. It is typical of how the weekend has been, eyes sparkling with joy, unaffected by the rainstorm.

***

I love flying into LAX at night, suspended in the silence, the city lights stretching unimaginably, bounded in the distance by the mountains and the ocean. As our flight descends into Los Angeles, our youngest son sleeps with his head resting on my shoulder. I kiss the top of his teenage head, and he doesn’t wince or make a face or even say anything rude. I kiss him again and breathe in this moment, because I’m going to blink and when I open my eyes, I will be flying home from his college graduation.

We hit the ground running today, our Monday travel-day puts our week off to a late start. As the pace quickens and the volume increases, I cling to that moment in the sky, all those lights shimmering in the darkness.

***

Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. And quiet in the storm.

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