Ever catch the onset of a summer thunderstorm? In the Midwest, I am sure to witness a few raging spectacles each year, every storm descending in the same way. Hot, hazy sun steeps in still, hushed air, an atmospheric inflammation that lingers until I beg relief from the horizon. Before I see anything, I feel a nearly imperceptible shift in pressure. The fever breaks. Though slight, it electrifies my skin. All of my senses begin to anticipate what I know will come.
Within moments, ripples from an unseen hand wave grass and leaf. Air heavy as burlap gives way to wet, pungent ozone across my tongue. For a moment, the sun still shines giving great contrast to the green cloud seeping like murky ink across the sky. The racing cloud line rides wilder air that first swirls then buffets, howling down streets and rattling glass. Finally, light succumbs to dark sheets of rain. In mere minutes, this once motionless earth has become frantic, whipped into a cosmic frenzy, as I stand in my doorway and drink it in, profoundly present in this moment for the way my senses are wholly engaged.
This life, his life in this place, happens every single day. I hear giggles in the next room; I see the sun’s first fingers spread across the sky; I smell a still-warm early morning espresso cup near my husband’s desk. My body takes inventory, weaving these morsels into a growing awareness of life as breath not busy work. Each moment offers a chance to engage with the One who creates it, who has given us extraordinary means to savor each crumb as it comes, not before or after, but just as it unfolds. Senses captured, I am profoundly present in his moment.
Though costly, it is easy to disengage. Fear (and other lies) steal me from the present since, often, nothing terrifies more than engaging a present person, conviction, challenge, heartache. When I’m not careful, disengaged senses become distracted. Stuff, like packing popcorn, flits and clings; I flail about with a host of brooms. Life continues, but I miss its oxygen and slowly suffocate.
I hide, deny, withdraw, numb, doubt my way to all sorts of scenarios like I’ll never get the reprieve I need or overcome my inherent bad-ness or, worse, the countless hours I’ve invested in my children will not deter their bad-ness which basically means that bad-ness is inevitable everywhere and, dare I say it, life might not win over death after all. It is precisely here, completely disconnected, that I must engage deeply with the life-filled present and its promised purpose, where God waits in the ring to lift my gloved hand in victory. Blazing sun bursting through spent cloud.
Our senses allow us to savor this truest life, to drink it, touch it, see it, know it – what a gift. When we know this life intimately, we anticipate what will come long before we see it. The barometer imperceptibly shifts, death giving way to the truest story, the one from which all other stories are told. In this story, love conquers each moment, its Cornerstone present for us to fully engage hope, courage and community. Saturated senses yield to worship in anticipation of the redemption that comes as over-and-over-again waves.