Friday, June 26, 2015

when you didn't plan on being a hot mess {and the importance of bench sitting}

I didn't feel like a hot mess when I woke up this morning.

I mean, I actually felt clear-headed, non-hormonal, and semi-normal.  I had an idea of what to fix the kids for breakfast and I remembered everything they needed for Vacation Bible School before we were already in the car and on the way.  I even took a shower.



The breakdown started with the outgoing mail.  On his way out of the house my husband, Joey, noticed the letter I had tucked in the top of our mailbox for Kim, our mail lady.  I realize that it may be unusual to know your mail person's name, but we all know Kim because she pulls up our long winding driveway every day and gets out of her truck and delivers our letters into the box that is attached to the side of our house.  Is that not the most lovely Pleasantville-thing you have ever heard?

Anyway.
I know Kim and Kim knows me and so I'm sure she would have gotten a kick out of what I had done.

Joey walked back in the house with the letter in hand, laughing.
Were you going to try and mail this without a zip code?
I looked at the envelope and not only did it not have a zip code, but it was also missing a stamp.  Nice.
We laughed hard, we fixed the problem, and I was feeling like I could still pull this day off without any major glitches.
Um.  No.

I got the kids out of the door and to VBS on time without any yelling or tears so I was feeling pretty good about myself.  Until I walked in and started a conversation with someone I thought I knew and then turns out I didn't.  Awkward, weird.  Things were getting a little messy, but I still thought I could salvage the day.

I drove across town {which takes five minutes - more Pleasantville loveliness} to one of my favorite coffee shops that has also become my satellite office.

I thought how nice it is to be settling into our new home and our new life and to have our places and our people.
As a writer I need that.
As a person I need that.

I walked in to see familiar faces and have easy conversations.  I scouted out a good location in the back corner at the high top table underneath the guitar painting.  I placed my order and took in the scene of people talking and joking and just generally being a community for one another.

It was as I was preparing my coffee that the mess turned hot.

I had just put the lid on my cup when a guy walked over and said something like 'I know this might sound strange but...'
And as I turned to look at this guy, who happened to be a police officer and was about to tell me something strange {can you sense my heart rate escalating?}, my hand got caught on my coffee cup and because it wasn't a slow, graceful turn but a quick, nervous one, all 16 ounces of the cup's contents were flung across the counter and all over the floor.
Enter the hot mess - literally.
Everyone started laughing.  Myself included.
It felt so good.

We all scrambled for napkins and towels.
We cleaned the mess together.
As we did we kept laughing and talking and I thought to myself - this feels like home.

One of the other customers mentioned how fortunate it was that just moments before the spill I had moved my open computer bag away from the counter.  One of the girls who works there said that at least I had only ordered a 16 ounce coffee instead of 24.  And as they poured me a new cup they said - how lucky, now you get the freshly-brewed pot that was just now ready.
How lucky.
How fortunate.
Not that I am a walking hot mess, but that I have people who will laugh and love me anyway and remind me of silver linings - the things that are still good and true because they don't depend on me.  I'm so glad there is so much that doesn't depend on me.

I'm in the middle of reading an advance copy of my friend, Emily's new book - Simply Tuesday.  The way she has written this book is just as important to me as the words she has chosen.  When I read it I feel like I am in an easy conversation with an old friend.  I feel like someone is singing my soul to a slower pace.  I feel like I am sitting with a kindred spirit who is on the same determined mission as me - to really see the moments that matter in our ordinary days.

On the cover of Emily's book is a bench.  A simple bench - nothing fancy.  And in the book she talks about benches and how having them and using them can make all the difference in the everyday.  She describes the benches in the cul-de-sac in front of her house this way
The benches simply gave us neighbors a place to be, a place to rest, a place to come together on an ordinary day.  I've thought of this often in many areas of life when I try to make things too complicated...Where is the bench in this moment?

This morning in the middle of an unplanned hot mess I had a bench moment.

Even on my good days I can never
try hard enough
or plan ahead enough
or have resolve enough
to make everything work perfectly.
It helps to have people who can laugh with you in the middle of your not-enough and say - well of course you would try to mail a letter without a stamp and say something awkward to someone and spill your coffee all over the place - nobody's perfect.  But we will embrace it all together and in doing so embrace each other.

By the way - the strange thing the strange man had to tell me?
The tag was sticking out of the back of my shirt.
Of course it was.
And he's not strange anymore.  His name is Kevin and his wife is about to have a baby and now I know him.  Who ever said hot messes were a bad thing?

As I write this post a friend is calling to me across the bustling room on his way out of the door and back into the big wide world - Bye Elizabeth.  Have a good day.

I smile and wave and think to myself -
we really do carry home with us.

As Emily reminds me in her book - the kingdom of God is in the whisper, in the seed, in hidden places.  It's in our small moment living that we will find him, that we will find home.

I will pull up a bench and sit a long while for that.
I will take time enough to notice that being in this coffee shop, on this morning, is like being in a great big living room - a space where
everyone comes and goes
and we spill things
and we laugh
and we love
and we serve each other food and encouragement
and someone will always care enough to tell you that your tag is sticking out.
We all come from different places when we arrive and are headed in different directions when we leave, but while we are here we create home for each other.
Everybody needs to feel home,
to know what it means to sit with someone on the bench and see the small moments together. 

As I finish up this messy post Lionel Ritchie is singing Easy Like Sunday Morning through the overhead speaker and I am reminded that yes,
Sundays can be easy
and Tuesdays can be simple
and Thursdays can be messy
and every day brings with it ordinary moments that are for
noticing
and sharing
and pointing us back home.

Next month I will be doing a giveaway that will include a copy of Emily's book and a couple of other lovely things that will encourage more bench sitting in your life.  Stay tuned and 'Like' my page on FB if you'd like a friendly reminder.