My youngest stands one foot on a wooden stool, the other in the air, swishing our morning bowls, rinsing the suds, switching legs. A blackened belt of water marks his shirt as he leans into the sink, his inside out boxers pants enough for this Tuesday.
Both blondes are at school, six field lined miles and entirely too far away.
It is the first year for our middle, his shy smirk unzipping my heart as I stand at the classroom door each afternoon, it’s folder day he whispers to only me as we walk towards sister.
She weaves confidently through the hall each morning and yet her fingers find mine as we near her locker, stay she begs. It is then I remember the way she said intruder drill yesterday, how the words were even more heavy, more wrong in her young mouth, vulgar when said in the bell of her voice.
God, the things they shouldn’t know.
The image of her standing on top of a toilet there, door locked. Me: nowhere near.
God, be near.
And these days, He has been.
While we have been living in the most peaceful physical place I have ever called home, I do need to tell you that these days have been dusty and difficult and demanding.
Since July, we have used an outhouse as our primary bathroom, I have washed our bodies with a hose behind the camper, I have hauled heaps of laundry back and forth to parents homes, my vision of fresh sheets flapping in the wind dying with our limited water source.
I have had to say those nasty, graveled words: help, and no, and I can’t.
(also: wow, look at that sky.)
These are the days that leave me full and undone, the most myself I have ever felt.
These are the days that have demanded I disconnect from all else.
The power at the land is clunky at best. If more than one appliance is trying to operate at once, the entire system will blow. This means that before I slide diced sweet potatoes on to the slick pan, I must turn off the heat. To brew morning’s first espresso, I must unplug my charging phone.
There is only enough power for one thing at a time to run at full capacity.
In order to restart the power, I must tromp one hundred yards to the cove—over weeds, rock, gravel—as dust pools in my sandals, as I watch for the wild parsnip. I must bow in the mud, tilting my neck near the remote outpost, yanking the hunky plug from its mud caked home.
And then I must wait.
I must turn towards home.
When we purchased this camper in January, stripping the thick flowered upholstery and heavy drapes and tired carpet, I thought about the many moments we would share in our 180 square feet of happy, clean and calm space — I imagined this unusual season, the ways I would broadcast our simplicity campaign to all.
Yet, somehow, the moment our whiplashed selves settled on the land–after a month up north, after ten days in Europe, after packing up our home, selling any excess, shoving the rest in storage–it felt like anything but a circumstance to exploit. This time, this place, these days, have felt sacred and personal and gritty and tender and very much ours.
I now realize the moments of beauty and struggle here are for us and us alone and there is something in that that feels greedy and nourishing and cool.
This was our time.
We unplugged because the cost of living this time through lurching connection was too steep. It was essential both literally and mentally and so I deactivated my accounts, deleted my apps and totally disconnected.
And in those days, I felt more connected than I have in a long, long while — to my own being, to my Creator, to creation, to those I call my own. The flames of comparison were cooled by the rising flood of contentment, our days were not being held next to anothers.
They were simply, wonderfully, ours.
Last night, while we were saying bedtime prayers (thank you for this land, for this day, for this family) my youngest pushed my hair back and slowly hooked it behind my ear. His other arm was draped around my neck, his fingers brushing my shoulders. I inhaled sharply, aching to pause time, grasping the moment for what is was: fickle and infinite. I’m not sure I would have even noticed it before or if I would have rushed to try and capture it, to remember it — but now I know I’ll never forget it.
I was there for it.
And that night, I knelt.
And heavy with gratitude, with muddied knees, I held my palms open again and handed over the aching things I was trying to carry and control and power on my own — and it was enough.