Well, we’re a traveling family this summer, and our itinerant lifestyle + lack of babysitters has left little time for writing. But despite cooking on a hot plate for a family of four; saving every leftover container, piece of tin foil, and produce bag for re-use; and traveling with an almost unimaginable amount of stuff (two pack-and-plays, high chair, toddler potty, stroller, scooter, suitcase of toys, bag of books, huge duffel of pots and pans and plates and bibs and cutting boards, violin, viola, bassoon, mandolin, sheets, fans, towels, etc) –
life has actually been surprisingly, refreshingly simple.
[That’s the trunk of our car, folks. And I AM sorry that I haven’t had any time at all to write. I’ve saved up so many ideas and “written” so many posts while running…but there has not been a minute to actually write. I’m running a marathon in November and taking an audition in September, and so literally every minute that the kids are asleep – before their days begin, during their mid-day naps, and after their days end – has essentially been devoted to viola. Or running. Or taking care of other necessary things since no babysitters on the road has meant there’s truly NO time.]
I had expected that spending a total of eight weeks outside of the city and away from our “normal” routine (in quotes since our schedule is rarely the same for more than a week – let alone an entire month) would be difficult, at best. I had worried about activities and isolation and logistics and dozens of other things. But, surprisingly, it has been wonderful.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
We’ve had such sweet, precious time as a family of four while on the road – and I realize how little we really need. This summer, we’ve primarily had each other. And that has been enough.
Life in New York City is hard for such a variety of reasons (don’t get me started), and it seems like I need so much just to survive. On the road, life is simple. (Although my husband reminds me often that it’s basically been “vacation.”) Harrison works, various hours, various jobs, nearly every day, depending on where we are. When he’s not working, he’s with us. Commute time has been a maximum of 15 minutes, so he can always come home in between rehearsals/concerts/master classes/shows/teaching lessons and all of those in between times can be spent as a family instead of apart.
Of course, there have been plenty of challenges this summer, too – screaming kids in car seats and just. getting. tired of all the travel and packing and unpacking and moving around – but being away has taught me something so very important about being home. Which is that home is where my family is.
And also – despite the many wonderful adventures and explorations and towns and new friends and playgrounds and libraries – I’ve missed our New York City home. I miss being able to walk everywhere and I miss our grocery store checkers and the security guards in our building and the friends we see at the park. I miss having a dishwasher and I miss our church (I could write many posts on the variety of church experiences we’ve had this summer!).
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4: 11-12
This passage ends with the famous line “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Implying, of course, that the secret to contentment is relying on God for all things and finding one’s strength in God. That’s certainly true, but the passage is also about the act of learning contentment. And this summer has been about that learning, for me.
Our travels have taught me that I need less than I thought to be content. And also that despite the many trials and challenges of living in New York City with little kids – it is my home, and there are many things here to appreciate. Our summer on the road has taught me that I can be content anywhere with my family. And it has taught me that I can be content in New York City with my family. (As long as I get away for eight weeks every summer. Ha!) I know this summer has been more like vacation than “real life,” in many ways. But I can still learn to be content, whatever the circumstances. I can be content on the road and I can be content in New York.
I’ve been learning so many other things too, this summer. Including how totally extraordinary so much of the ordinary beauty around us is. We’ve seen so many beautiful things – not because we’ve been visiting national parks or seeking out famous landmarks or reading travel websites about the best places to visit near every random small town we’ve been in this summer. But just because there’s so much beauty everywhere. There’s beauty in the lakes and the skies, in the clouds and the still waters. There’s beauty in the wildflowers that line the miles of highway and beauty in the miles of farmland. There’s beauty in Vermont and Rhode Island and Massachusetts and New York and New Jersey, beauty on the coast and beauty in the wooded foothills of the Catskills. Our land is beautiful, folks. Here’s just a taste of the extraordinary, ordinary beauty we’ve seen.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1
Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.
Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge? Job 37: 14-16
[Folks, our travels aren’t over! We’ve still got two more weeks and then another two weeks of adjusting to some big family patterns, so it could be awhile before I have the time to write again – who knows. But I’m excited to share with you so many other things I’ve been thinking about, including how it’s been a “summer of yes” for me…So stay tuned! Thanks for your grace!]