Friday, October 10, 2008

The Midst

At 1:00 in the morning, I find myself still awake. I'm sitting here, under the amber glow of a light poolside at my apartment, looking around at the rows of neatly distributed domiciles, each with their own set of lives unfolding inside. These are people who, living in such relative and real proximity to each other, still know next to nothing about the goings on behind door #...fill in the blank. As I sit, the generous aroma of a well seasoned and (obviously) lovingly prepared meal wafts to me from across the expanse, and I watch as an apartment still abuzz with activity opens its doors to a seemingly endless parade of late night revelers. They aren't loud, not boisterous, but each seem to pass through the doors of this particular space with a sense of familiarity that only comes to family, or those who would be called family. And it's in this moment that I realize that I miss that.

I miss the idea of late night dinners that begin well after the prescribed or healthy eating times as defined by some "expert" somewhere. I miss the sense that the open door is in fact just that, a portal into a place where you know that you are welcome, and beyond that- family. I had it once. We were all in our early 20s (well, except for Rocky but that's what made him so cool), all relatively fresh out of college, and all muddling through this life thing as best we could. We lived in what was lovingly called the "House of Deception," for the uncanny way in which its residents could get you to believe, collectively, most anything that came out of any individual's mouth, no matter how far fetched. More often than not, it was just called "The House." It was great. The house was a ramshackle place with a foundation that had so badly shifted that the front door barely closed, and never locked. The carpet that lay everywhere (yes, including the kitchen and bathroom) was all that stood between us and the drafty breeze of a floor with more cracks in it than any of us dared to count. It was a welcoming place; the kind of place where you never knew who could walk through the door at any moment, completely unnanounced, and absolutely without knocking (let's not even try to count the number of mad, towel-clad dashes to the bathroom were attempted). Sitting in a corner sat a much too out of tune upright piano and a far too often used (at all ungodly hours of the night) foosball table. It was in many ways the quintissential bachelor pad, and it was awesome. Those that regularly found themselves inside its sagging, sloping, paint peeled walls were affectionately referred to (by each other) as "the family." We were a motley crew of musicians, actors, lovers of music, tone deaf business people, and slightly neurotic divas. We were in every way a family, as hodgepodge as we might be.

This is the place where I experienced God in ways previously unimagined. This is where spontaneous worship happened as one or several people would randomly begin strumming a guitar and singing songs that may have started out as nonsense, but soon morphed into the most beautiful melody lifted to a beautiful Lord. This is where, in the absence of a drum, time was kept on whatever we could find- a trashcan, pot, table or the floor. This is where we prayed because we wanted to. Where we saw tears shed and hearts mended and broken. This is where life happened. This is where life began.

Why do I bring all this up? Because we've lost that. Let me not be so grandiose in my statements- I've lost that. The sense of wonder that comes from sitting on a back porch with a friend, wrestling through life with a beer and a cigar, or the pain of a love that's unrequited while the joy of someone else's newfound beau takes centerstage. The idea that we really aren't alone in all this because the people around us, quite literally around us, are as different and as beautiful as any tapestry woven by a master. These ideas are almost foreign to me now, so far removed from them am I. But, still God is so close.

He's as close as the reminder that family exists in late night romps in moldy public fountains where we ran from the police, as close as stars that seem to shine brightly in the midst of turmoil, as close as whisps of smoke that rose from the end of embers as if trailing prayers to heaven, as close as the smell of dinners carried on the winds of dawn's impending arrival. God is as close as our embracing each other and every moment that comes our way. For it is in those moments, where two or three are gathered, that He is in the midst. May we- may I- find Him there and may I always be searching for the moments that all too often escape me.


Morgan said...

i enjoyed this post, being the first i've read from you. i can certainly relate...wondering if those "better" days of community will ever be reality again, wondering if losing that is taking a step back in life. maybe that's not what you're saying, but these thoughts have been running through my mind of late. anyways, good to hear from you :)

Andrew said...

Good words Damany. Thanks for writing this out and sharing your processing.