Most days, what is really real eludes me.
As the air does that surrounds me, it tucks all around and fills my lungs with breath, elusive always to these eyes that cannot see things invisible, though I've no doubt it's there. I scarcely give it a thought, this air, these breaths, this sea of real that I swim through unaware, until there's something in the air that awakens my senses.
Smoke twirling its charcoal mustache from a chimney. The smell of salt and fish and sea hanging in the downtown city air. Tantalizing wafts of hamburger from a neighbor's backyard grill. Scents tapped into memories, the way I'm suddenly transported back to the world of Harry Potter when I board the light rail and inhale metallic and air conditioning, from all those trips to and from work last autumn utterly transfixed in stories. The brooding skies in the moments before they rip open, releasing rains that bounce off pavement.
But most days, the air is just the air and my eyes not seeing anything but what is right in view.
And then, the unusual happens. The sacred breaks through the trance of routine, and for but a few breaths, the eighty beats per second of a hummingbird's wings, I see something else.
* * * * *I was walking the back road home through the neighborhood the other night, headphones tucked in my ears, caught up in the kind of music that soothes and opens my soul. The kind that makes me want to weep in a crowd of strangers on the bus, seeing them for a moment in their fragile human skin, beautiful and vulnerable. The road looked the same as it always looks, and not the same at all. Trees just a month before in their glorious prime now showing signs of decay, hints of the glory of age glinting on the edges of their leaves. Blackberry bushes I stood on tiptoes to graze from not long ago now bearing their withered remains. Leaves crackling beneath my feet. Shadows lengthening across shortened daylight. Something, it's hard to put into words, but something else, too, hung there in the air as I walked and listened to the soundtrack of piano and slowed my steps.
Something else caught my eye, but not really my eyes - the eyes that see real things. I was two blocks from home, the apartment building looming on the corner where I could see, when tears from nowhere, or perhaps from the fountain of the deep of me, caught in my throat. It sounds crazy, but I stopped and strained my eyes to that corner, half expecting to see him. To see Jesus.
I don't know what he would have looked like, only that in that air, I felt something of his presence, of the spirit of his life, the whisper of homesickness carried on the evening breeze. There, at the end of the road, I imagined I saw him waiting for me, waiting to welcome me home.
Because isn't that the most real thing? This air, these roads, the realest real that we move in and through each day and every day until the end of our days, is our walk home. Our walk towards real life, towards a God that we've never seen and maybe never thought to try to see, whose name has been on our lips or never at all, and yet there he is. Waiting.
And in these moments of seeing, some fierce and holy love that has long ago taken hold, seizes this heart. This doubting, conflicted, open, hungry heart. With one hand I hold the hand of doubt and the other faith, and we keep walking. Because after all these years, I know the three of us can walk together, as long as we are pointed toward home.
* * * * *
Linking up with Kate and the Five-minute Friday community, to the prompt of "Hold." As per usual for me (rule breaker that I apparently am), this was not the product of five minutes, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.