Learning to Walk With Grace

I am learning to walk with grace in the dark
I am learning to trust and to lead with my heart
When the old moon is gone into silence and sighs
It’s the one and only time a new moon can rise

Sometimes there is no reason, the moon waxes and wanes
It was the 100 year flood and you were in the way
Some things we find in daylight and we’re grateful to know
Some things we only learned where we did not want to go

I can’t tell you it will all turn out fine
But I know is there’s help in hard times

Carrie Newcomer, Help in Hard Times

 6:11 AM

That’s what my phone flashed when I awoke.

I did have the house ready. I cleaned. I went to the grocery store so there would be food here for Mitch’s return.

I met with our friend who was going to take care of our dog, Hunter, in between my early morning departure on this day and Mitch’s late night return.

I packed; laid out the clothes I would wear in the morning, and even took a shower to save time that next morning. The only thing I had to do was put the toiletries I used in the suitcase and get Hunter situated for the long day. My plane would leave at 7:30 AM so I set my alarm for 4:45, plenty of time.

So, seeing 6:11 on the clock sent me into a frenzied panic. I flew up the stairs, let Hunter out, and filled his bowl. He became anxious too, watching me as I flitted around.

I put on the clothes I’d carefully laid out. I opened the door to the dog run and left it open. I did not have time to let the dog out, again. I crammed my final things into the suitcase, not even bothering to brush my teeth or comb my hair, and put them in the car.

I went back in the house, pulled Hunter’s bed upstairs and plopped it in the living room. His treat—I went to the kitchen and in my haste kicked over the water bowl—another brief delay to fill it again.

Finally, I was on my way. And then it happened—the realization that it might be possible to make it in time. I needed to be calmer to make that happen. Paying attention to traffic, driving fast but not too fast, I arrived at the airport at 6:45.

There was still time? I ran to the terminal and entered. There was no one at the Air Alaska desk. Each self-serve kiosk had a paper sign that stated: temporarily out of order.

I asked unexpectedly at the neighboring airline’s counter whether checking in was still possible. The lady calmly reminded me that there was an hour cut off for checking in prior to departure time. “Just call the number listed at the desk for help.”  It was an 800 number so I wasn’t sure how that would help me now.

I resolved that I would miss this flight and it would be okay, somehow. The flight that Mitch and I had so carefully planned so that we could be at the airport in California at the same time. We carefully orchestrated flight times so that we could both spend some precious time with our son, together, before Mitch went back home and I stayed.

Now, my new arrival time would be 4:37. Mitch’s flight would leave at 4:45.

When I texted Mitch to let him know I missed my flight, he was in the emergency room. Our son had a broken jaw in two places from being hit by a metal bar when readying a helicopter for taking off in the early morning darkness. Mitch wouldn’t be getting on our carefully planned flight, either.

I’ve long been plagued (maybe that is not a good word) with what we do, what God does, and what just happens. I guess it is the “just what happens” part—part cosmic orchestration, or the goodness of people, or synchronicity, or the grace of God in our lives that I cannot explain. All of these are evidence to me that a force greater than us that undergirds this life is present.

I had time before my new departure time to go back home, take care of the dog and retrieve my glasses I’d forgotten in my earlier haste. The lady at the long-term parking window waved me on, my parking was free today she said. On my way back home and then back to the airport an hour later, I listened to Carrie’s song, over and over.

Our family had a gift of three full days to walk together: in the dark, to be present for each other in both pain and to witness glimmers of grace.

Some things we find in daylight and we’re grateful to know
Some things we only learned where we did not want to go

I can’t tell you it will all turn out fine
But I know is there’s help in hard times.

I am still learning to lead with my heart, not my head, with radical trust.

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