The rolling, golden hills of eastern Washington have given way to forested slopes and steep grades as we wind our way across Northern Idaho and into Montana. The road snakes ahead and my attention turns toward this present moment. So often my thoughts are anywhere but here. I'm mentally planning and preparing for something in the future, or I'm replaying moments that are past. One of the things we desired when we sold our home and embarked on this nomad's journey was to pull together, to really spend time as a family. I thought it would happen naturally, without a four bedroom home to care for, a yard that needed attention, and the myriad of responsibilities that make up "real life," there would certainly be hours to just "be" together. Right?
It turns out, the hours never come. Life on the road is just that. Life. Real life. I've traded cleaning a larger space for a tiny one, but it still has to be cleaned, and has challenges of its own. Every space is crammed with the things we need and use, so in order to do just about anything, to access anything, I often have to move five things just to get to it. It's like playing Tetris in 200 square feet of real life with five other people. Sometimes my relationships feel this way too, that before I can read a story or go kick a ball with one of the kids, I need to just do this and that and the other thing first. I know some of that is necessary, some of it is just life. But often my mental clutter and lack of attention to the present moment rob me of the being together I so desire. I'm realizing that no matter our lifestyle, it's not going to happen unless I am intentional about it, unless I take the time to stop and listen to the voices around me, not tune them out in favor of the conversation in my head. I need to get down and look in the eyes of the little one who wants a moment of my time, put my hand in theirs, and go look at the thing that is so important to them. If I want hours to be with my kids, I have to make the most of moments as they come.
What I share on this blog is the highlights, the pretty pictures of our life. But we're real people with real struggles, and this is not a vacation. I used to share a lot more of the real, raw, me, and somewhere along the way it's become harder to do that. We're on a journey, not just across the United States, but into ourselves, and hopefully to a place of more peace as we grow together as a family. We have patterns of brokenness that need healing. We are seeking grace and joy as we travel. Sometimes I see glimpses of it, like rays of sun breaking through clouds, and I cling to those, praying for the darkness to roll away.
All I have is this moment. A river winds its way alongside us as we make our way East. Tall pines cover slopes all around. Poppy has socks on her hands and feet and is narrating a fight between them. Pearl is snacking and Peregrine is playing with Lego. Raphi and Peregrine have both been told to be silent for a while due to unkindness, and Raphi is fingering the chocolate bar he bought with his own money at Trader Joe's yesterday. Erik drives and listens to an audiobook or music. I write, and think, and read, and check Facebook, and marvel at the wonders of an internet connection at 60mph in the middle of nowhere. I read books to the kids and hand out snacks and settle fights. The Montana sky stretches out in front of us, today covered in clouds. The sun is up there, though, and I can see a bright spot where it's warmth and light are breaking through. I can feel it on my shoulder as I watch a train traveling West in the valley below. I'm here. Now. I'm soaking in this moment, and I'm praying for the sun to break through as we journey together.