I can honestly say that I had no expectations of what this day would feel like. I remember seeing the high school kids with my third grade eyes. The excitement of knowing someday I would be that tall, drive a car, go to college. I remember starting at Ohio State and eagerly awaiting the day I would graduate. Those points, like the other end of a bridge, were there... waiting for me. And they came soon enough.
But this is a little different. A milestone without the mountain climb or the hill. I don't feel like I have crested the wave, or reached a summit. I suppose it feels more like a long steep incline somewhere on a mountain, above that point where the green fades to grey and the living things move no further.
I was in Utah for the first time recently. The mountains around Salt Lake City look as though they were dropped there. Or carved out of some child's eager efforts to get the highest grade ever achieved in a Geography Class though a use of plaster and food coloring that goes beyond the imagination. I thought Brigham Young just brought the Mormon faith, perhaps he dropped the peaks as well. They look that out of place and are draw you in just as the young ones do who work so hard to introduce you into the faith.
I sat for a long time looking at them and the valley and the radiance. As the sun slipped away that evening, the light shimmered across the flatness, bouncing off the buildings and the glass and the houses and the pavement. It was an amazing sight, and I have to say that I felt at peace. Like a million Christmas stars over a million mangers. I knew then why, for so many, it was the place.
There are not many times that I feel that much at ease anymore. They come so rarely that I can catalog them-- like great lovers or good books. Both of which find a spot on the shelf of your memory and remain among the dust and the wood and the yellowed pages of a favorite volume. But seeing those mountain tops and that setting sun, It felt as though I belonged. As though I had accomplished something. Maybe that's what brings peace now. When you get so far along a road you just want to know you have arrived somewhere. Someplace calm and inspiring and warm. Even if only for a moment or two.
I feel peace in his arms too. Even in the middle of a painful day. It feels like that mountain. The light bounces the same way off the sheets and the smile. And it feels like being inside a cup of hot chocolate on an October Morning just before Halloween.
Maybe that is the point that is supposed to come into focus as the pages flip on the days of future passed. Maybe its less about feeling accomplished than it is just about feeling. The feeling of the ache in the shoulder that doesn't often go away. The feeling of loving in a way you didn't think you could. The feeling of awe at the top of a hill that reminds you of a journey that, at least in some form, is not forever.
I guess that is the difference. Forever is a word in the vocabulary of a third grader... I wonder if it is still in mine. Maybe it doesn't have to be. If we can see the beauty in a million moments that flow together. Just like the orange drops of light twinkling across the Utah Plateau, or the smile of someone we have waited a long time to see.
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