This Would Change Everything
It’s a fall day, four in the afternoon, about sixty degrees outside. I have a late night at the office ahead of me, so I cut work for a couple hours to rest and eat dinner with my family. I’m scattered, a million things on my mind, but we’ve just bought a new football, so I ask my kids if they want to play catch.
My oldest two get in position at the far end of our front yard. We start by throwing a few halfway decent passes. Soon, we find ourselves chasing the ball as it bounces all over the lawn. We’re laughing, having real fun.
At some point, I rear back and tell my son to go long for a “Hail Mary.” As I release the ball, I look up at our big pin oak, dropping yellow leaves. I see the gnarly old trees in the woods that lay beyond our property. I see the amber light of November shining through the branches and onto our little one-story home. And for just a moment, I can see the world as it actually is. No ambition-goggles. No worry-filter. No theology-lenses. Just trees and grass and house and happy kids playing catch.
I flash to when I’m three years old, sitting at the dining room table in our small white house with the gabled roof. The sun is slanting through the window. I look outside. For the first time, I notice that bright orange leaves are now flickering on our once green tree. Every once in a while, one blows loose and floats down on the breeze. I wonder aloud about them and hear the wonderful word, “autumn,” for the first time.
A couple years later, during a moderate spring rain, Mom dresses me in a yellow rain slicker and old tennis shoes. I run outside and stomp around in the puddles, swing on the soaking swingset, and climb into the rusty old trailer to listen to the droplets tapping on the roof. All by myself. Full of an inexpressible contentment.
Five or six years later, a snowy Christmas Eve, just after candlelight service, after cookies, after a few presents. I pull on my moon boots and tromp out into the quiet of our backyard. I climb the short but sturdy tree by the big metal swing set and look up at the stars, half-hoping to glimpse the Star of David.
During each of these moments, I am fully awake and alive, immersed in the world as it presents itself. I have yet to see the world as my enemy, a place that’s out to get me. I don’t yet know to complain about the rain or the snow, the heat or the cold.
But as I developed plans of my own, the world seemed like it was out to get me. The snow was meant to stop me from driving to work. The rain was going to ruin the gig I was supposed to play. And the heat. . . ugh. Cooperate! I’ve got stuff to do.
Every once in a while, though, as if caught only in my peripheral vision, I see, really see what the world is like. I really see my wife. My kids. My friends. If I could only hold onto that kind of seeing. If only I could share it.
It would change everything.