I got a lesson in stars a few nights ago. Camping underneath the South African sky in Franshoek for a couple of nights, I found myself one evening settling into the sleeping bag, staring up at Orion on his head, the bright Southern Cross nestled near the thick Milky Way smear across the sparkling sky. I knew that it was moments like these where existential thoughts come. You hear them referenced time and again: “Underneath the stars, I looked up and decided right then that my life needs to …”
So I waited.
I closed my eyes again–a hard close like we do when trying to reset our thoughts so we can find what we are looking for–and opened them again. Same breathtaking sky, still no existential question or declaration born.
So I waited.
Nothing. I passed out for the night.
The next morning, we stumbled out of sleeping bags and tents and strolled in together, faces, hair and clothes not put to rights. We made coffee for each other. We laughed heavy laughs before ever brushing our teeth (or, at least I had not yet brushed mine).
I have had three weeks of this kind of in between time, and the size of my world has grown bigger because of it.
Coffee and tea made for each other first, ugly thing in the morning.
Deep laughs on the way to and from the school and market.
Back yard stillness that’s almost too dark to make sense of, but the sense of it is clearly very, very good.
Walks through the commons. Walks through the forest.
Laughs that turn to tears ordering items on menus, cradling bicycles, and sitting around with the boys over a beer.
The endings of conversations where it’s clear that people have seen each other.
Words about work and hope and pain with feet dangling in a tiny pool on the side of a mountain.
It’s the in between times of work and play that add up to those existential realizations that something else is always brewing in the world of ours, something holy and real, something a bit thicker than what we are aware of at our worst, and a bit richer than those things we finally notice when we are at our best.
Thanks, Craig, Liesl, Caroline, and the kiddos for making me at home, and for challenging me to live into the great news of the kingdom. And for teaching me that it’s the lesson in stars itself which ends up being the existential moment we wait for.
Thanks for the in between times this month. They have born in me great courage.