Today one of our favorite people came over with several chainsaws, a machete, and various other tools of mischief to help us take out some light-blocking (and one slowly-rotting) trees. I’ll call him G-man for efficiency. We’ve seen each other through almost seven years of life. He’s built a reputation for being able to roast the juiciest turkey in the history of Thanksgiving, nearly cutting his hand off, and basically being as worrisome as myself in his industry. We’ve supported one another through children born, relationships lost, a studio built, chickens inherited, hard decisions made, tattoos designed, many conversations about the nature of God over coffee or a cold beer, fences built, meals shared, rugby games watched, trees re-purposed into firewood or stepping stones, but most importantly, our times together as a community involve a lot of heckling and hassling, because the best of friends impart wisdom and punchlines.
I’ve been looking for a rhythm to tie together my favorite moments of the day, but since our rhythms as a crew generally involve more of a chaotically choreographed dance of near mishaps on our way to goal achieved, there is one exchange that sums up it for me.
Our downstairs housemate emerged into the bright light and noise to find a pile of tree parts next to his car and a group of boys sawing away at it with the kind of zealous focus I’ve come to appreciate in boys when they get to play with sharp instruments and the instruction to “Dismantle! You will be rewarded!”
Rubbing at his eyes, our housemate looked to G-man with his chainsaw and then to me, hands on hip, grinning in the way I do when great forces of transformation have been unleashed on a warm spring day.
The usual greetings between men were had and then our housemate, Keith, asked G-man, “So what has Alegra gotten you into this time?” (Or something of this nature.)
I’m used to being the butt of jokes among our male friends because, hey, generally it is well-earned.
But G-man replied, “Nah, I show up because I’ve learned that whatever it is, it always sounds impossible but somehow she makes it work. I show up to see how it is all going to turn out because it does. Somehow it works.”
I made some joke about “that’s why the Good Lord keeps me here” and backed-away with my usual jazz hands but when I turned and skittered away, off to drag various things here or there, I had to go find a quiet place to have a little gratitude cry.
When I came into 2015, the word God gave me was ‘presence’, this would be a year about learning what it meant to be present, to feel the presence of others and to trust my own presence and purpose in the world. The year has brought a lot of painful lessons about letting go of my words, my striving, my attempts to make my presence understood for others and when it was clear that it was an impossible task, having to walk away without internalizing the misunderstanding. As a family, we’ve been discovering how powerful our support system is, the help we’ve been given in cutting away limbs that took energy from our growth. Sometimes entire trees had to be uprooted because of the way they’d begun to grow around us, threatening to strangle or consume what had originally been our intention to provide shelter and a place to heal.
I’ve mourned every removal and felt the fear and pain left by the raw, exposed absence. I had to trust that we would survive and heal. We would reabsorb and rechannel the energy regained and grow stronger limbs, a safer shelter, and in this spring, I watch as we bloom both as a family and as a community.
I’m so grateful to be seen and to be held by the family and friendships that surround me. I’ve come to realize that in this life, for me, there is no greater gift.
Together, the impossible somehow always works out and in ways far better than the vision we originally held.