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Not ordinary soccer, it’s soccer with four siblings on ground so bumpy with grass so tall the ball won’t go straight, around the old dog so focused on his bone he barely looks up as the ball whizzes past him and the puppy runs circles with a rope trailing from her mouth, threatening to trip us all. Soccer in the 8:00 evening light in church clothes and muck boots and Boy Scout shirts, with shoes untied and jeans ripped and the horses watching from the other side of the electric fence that isn’t on, but they don’t know that. Using apple trees as goal posts and a broken car as out-of-bounds, it’s soccer in my back yard, soccer that the summer air will preserve forever somewhere deep in the starlit summer sky.
Today, one of my friends was in a head-on collision with a logging truck. Our afternoon was full of stressing and praying as we waiting to hear if he would live, if he was stable, if he still had both legs. Covering Facebook with prayer requests, I discovered a woman I know had stopped on her way home from the gym and stood by praying for a young man in a mangled car as the firefighters spent an hour extracting him. She saw my friend moments after the crash–moments after the crash, an hour and a half before his parents got a call from the hospital, someone was praying for him. In the emotional aftermath of disaster, we are thankful he is alive and in one piece, and so grateful that God put someone on the scene to lift him up in prayer from the earliest moment.
For the first time in a long time, it’s hot like summer should be. The green all around me is dry, not wet, and the bluish-green hills are sun-washed. The air, sweet with the scent of warm raspberries, stands still and warm.
An English cloud moved in front of the English sun and it chased the sunlight across the paddock, over the hedge, and through the trees. Then it moved on and the sun came back, chasing the shadow across the paddock, over the hedge, and through the trees. And on the trees, the leaves turned up in the breeze and showed their backs, catching the sun as it ran from the shade and waving the shade away as it fled from the sun.
Oh laptop, meant to be portable, why hast thy battery become so weak? Five minutes and instant shutdown, oh laptop…but this new one, extended life! Five hours and still no flashing ocherous lights!
One summer, we stayed in a motorhome in a friend’s backyard. 4 kids, mommy, daddy, and a dog (who stayed outside) in a 32-foot motorhome. We played Taylor Swift loudly during the day and when we watched movies at night the whole thing shook and the windows glowed. We sat on a makeshift deck and watched the neighbor boys build cars. I rode my bike a lot because that was the summer I started to learn how to grieve. But it was Taylor Swift music that captured it. Every time I hear Taylor Swift, I remember a summer full of sitting outside, losing water if someone parked on the hose, seeing how many people we could fit in the bathroom, and riding slow circles in the cul-de-sac.
Sometimes, when you go away to college, you get scared because you’re changing and your high school friends are changing but you aren’t changing together. You get scared you’re changing into someone people won’t accept anymore. Understand anymore. You get scared that you’ll go home and realize you don’t know each other anymore. And sometimes it happens and you don’t know if you want to fight to make the relationship work. Sometimes you get home and discover you changed the same way she did and you needed to tell each other to find hope.
Here, the sky doesn’t go black until 10:45pm. Long after dinner, I go outside and see a sky still blue and barely dusky, the sun sending out its final rays and tinting the clouds orange and pink. Orange and pink–and blue and gray and white and gold, billowing or light and wispy, both at once. When the sun goes and the clouds fade, stars poke out, one at a time until the cosmos opens before my eyes, inviting me. With a chorus of nighttime frogs chirping in the distance, the sky holds more than atoms and gas and dust and fire and fission and fusion. It holds awe. Beauty. Wonder.