Two weeks ago my family – including my husband and sons, my sister and her family, my brother and his wife, and my parents – descended on the greater San Antonio area to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. It had been a trip that was years in the making, with much planning, anticipation, and expectation.
The trip certainly had its ups (time with family, warmer weather, and good food) and its downs (traveling with young children is always a bit of a challenge and the timing of the trip posed a few problems with some of my husband’s work commitments). But it was a memorable trip and one that I hope surpassed my mom’s expectations. Highlights included feeding the dolphins at Sea World, feasting on delicious Tex-Mex cuisine, spending time with extended family that I don’t get to see nearly enough, and floating down the lazy river at the resort pool.
One of the most memorable parts of the trip, for me, wasn’t even an activity, nor was it particularly noteworthy. In fact, it was one of those seemingly insignificant occurrences that are often overlooked. One of those moments when, if you aren’t careful, the feeling can pass you by without the slightest pause for notice. One of those wondrous demonstrations of the sacred that are so fleeting that you might not even realize that you had just been given a rare glimpse behind the curtain.
It happened at the end of a long day of touristy adventures. The kids were asleep in the backseat as my husband pulled our rental car into an open parking space in front of the hotel. He shifted the car into park, and when I looked up, right in front of me was an ethereal display of wispy streams of sunlight cutting through the hazy afternoon clouds, dancing upon the grassy hills that surrounded us.
Ordinarily, I would have noticed the spectacle, albeit with little fanfare or reverence, and quickly moved on to the next activity, shuffling our children inside, preoccupied with what was next. But something about this moment made me stop and stare a few moments longer. My husband had noticed the sight, as well, and for a few minutes we sat still and quiet, staring straight ahead, allowing the transcendental impact of the sight to seep into our souls, to wiggle its way into the nooks and crannies of our hearts.
For a few minutes, we forgot about the bundles of obligations that awaited us back home. We forgot about the relentless job pressures and the unceasing exhaustion and the oppressive unknowns. We forgot about the daily hassles, the prickly anxieties, the everyday challenges that can pile up until they become mountains of burden.
I stared ahead and allowed myself to not just see those translucent rays of light, but to feel them on me and in me and around me, like the fingers of God reaching down to caress my face. Like the resilient twine of a giant safety net enveloping me. Like a thousand flashlights of comfort leading the way home.
I’m not sure if my husband felt the significance of this moment as profoundly as I did or if he merely enjoyed a few moments of quiet before the madness of family travel began again. But when I glanced over at him, I saw a slight, but unmistakable, trace of contentment, peace, and calm. Maybe this sacred spectacle did have the same impact on him. Then again, I could have just imagined it.
Or maybe his face was simply mirroring the voice of my soul.