I'm sitting at a small bistro table in that formerly unused breezeway while I type away. It is cold, but I have a quilt over my lap, a quilt I made, so I am warm. I can hear the sounds of a worship mix coming from the house and I just caught up on a few extra days in my current devotional.
If I turn, I can glance into the backyard and see our fire ring, dark with the remains of last nights bonfire, and if I look forward I can see neighbors driving by. This breezeway has 4 doors, one on each wall. It doesn't just connect our garage to our house, but it connects our front yard to the back.
There is a big pile of brush in the back, I can see that from my table too. It has been there for years. At some point the age and size of our trees meant that our weekly yard waste pickup couldn't handle what would come down if there was a storm, or a breeze and we would throw branches in a pile in the back corner of the yard.
The size of that pile was like a weight on my chest. It was overwhelming to look at, and I didn't want anyone in my backyard. I didn't want them to judge my stick pile. After all, what type of person can't even manage getting rid of sticks? (I'll be the first person to tell you that it is pretty messy in my head most of the time.)
I created space in my breezeway yesterday, and slowly, one fire at a time, we're taking back space from that pile in the yard.
Most importantly, I unlocked the two breezeway doors that connect the front to the back and we welcomed family and friends to our yard. I told the voices in my head that no one cared about the cobwebs I may have missed, that no one cared that there is one big step down into the yard because the concrete shifted years ago, that no one cared about the size of the stick pile, they just saw more fuel for the fire.
Last night's bonfire was all sorts of holy. Last night's bonfire created space in my heart.
There is beauty in a friendship that just walks past the laundry baskets on the way to the bathroom. There is beauty in feeling comfortable in someone else's kitchen. There is beauty in picking up the sticks. There is beauty found when we allow people into our mess. Into our imperfect lives, our mismatched furniture and cobwebby breezeways.
There is an opportunity for Christ to move when the glow on your face is not from your iPhone but from embers glowing, perfect for marshmallows and quiet conversation. There is an opportunity for Christ to move when our faces are shadowed and our guard is down. There is an opportunity for Christ to move when you invite the neighbors over the fence.
This community, this acceptance, this comfort, this doing life together, this is sacred stuff. Today I'm thankful for a stick pile that means I can look forward to more of it.