31 Days:: Small Moments
Day 25: Small Moments
Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant moments in time that stay vivid in our memories. Moments like these cement themselves in our hearts, conjuring up the truth that something important happened here—something worth remembering. I can remember one such moment:
While I was living in Kona, Hawaii during my time as a student in Youth With a Mission‘s Discipleship Training School, I was awakening to God and the world in ways and at a pace that was unprecedented for me. I was a healthy young woman, living in one of the most beautiful lands on Earth, surrounded by incredible, God-loving, hungry-for-growth people my age, and in many ways I couldn’t have been happier.
Aside from all the adventures I was having on campus, I was also able to spend time with my cousins every once in awhile. Because they lived in Kona, not too far from my dormitory, I was able to sporadically hang out with them and get to know the island a bit more intimately. They took me to get the best shaved ice/frozen yogurt joint in downtown, drove me up and down the west coast of the island, and hiked with me across the sharp, black lava rock to remote beaches that only the locals knew about. I loved seeing these hidden, beautiful parts of the world and getting to spend time with my closest cousin.
And yet— although I treasured all my incredible adventures and experiences with my new friends and my cousins, I still found myself aching for home and family from time to time.
On one particular evening in early November, while I was feeling rather homesick, I went over to my cousins’ house and, after hanging out with them for awhile, wandered out on their back porch, settled myself in their hammock, and called my family back home in California. I talked to my mom and dad for a bit, and then had a chance to talk with one of my big brothers for a good long while. We talked about the usual: what God was teaching us, what sermons we’d heard recently that resonated, what we each thought about a particularly tricky passage in the Bible, his budding friendship with a girl he had graduated with a few years prior. Ever since my brother had come to know God about a year before, he had become a full-on, deep-thinking, deep-feeling, God-loving, amazing conversation partner. I always loved talking with him. His friendship and his desire to talk about important, spiritual matters was such a gift for me. There weren’t many other people back home who enjoyed those types of conversations like he and I did.
While Big Bro and I chatted on the phone that evening, I remember feeling particularly happy. I was comfortable in that hammock as I gazed up at the clear, twinkling night sky. The sticky, thick-with-plumerias air was almost intoxicating in its richness. And the best part was: my heart, my thoughts, and my flaws felt safe with my brother who was an ocean away.
After a good long visit, my brother and I wrapped up our goodbyes and hung up the phone. I laid on the hammock in silence for a few more minutes, breathed in the scent-drenched tropical air, and stared at the cracking stucco on the side of my aunt and uncle’s house. My heart throbbed a bit as I allowed myself to miss my family and my home. I thought of how cold it likely was back home right now. I thought of how I missed the Chicken Divan and the freshly baked cinnamon rolls that my mom often made at this time of year. I thought of my fun-loving eldest brother and mourned for the heartbreak he had recently experienced. I thought of my ever-active, pun-loving dad and how he would often bust out with pushups and sit-ups in the middle of watching a TV show. And of course I thought of the brother I had just spoken with and the wonderful reality that, although he wasn’t yet aware of it, he was in the midst of falling in love with an incredible young woman he would eventually marry.
I looked into the inviting, well-lit home of my cousins and heard chatter and laughter in there. I prayed for a brief moment for my family back home and thanked God for what I had here before me: close proximity to my favorite cousin in the world; new international friendships that would prove to change my life and my perception of religious legalism and American society forever; and, although I didn’t fully realize it, I was just beginning a lifelong journey deeper into the heart of an immeasurably big, uncontainably amazing God.
I took one more breath of the rich Hawaiian air, wiggled my way out of that hammock, and walked in to chat with my cousins for a few minutes before we all had to hit the sack for the night.
It was just a simple November night in my eighteenth year of life. No big deal, really. But, as one of the great writers and teachers of our time, William Zinsser, once wrote, it is oftentimes those “small self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory” that convey so much about your heart. Talking on the phone with my brother under the fragrant Hawaiian night sky has stuck with me all these years, reminding me of the deep-felt bonds I share with my family of origin. We are all grown up with families of our own now. We’ve changed in so many ways since that starlit night. But my heart is forever knit in a special way with the family I enjoyed during my youth.
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What about you?
Can you think of a small, seemingly unimportant episode in your life that is still vivid in your memory? What does it tell you about what is important to your heart?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.