There are wonderful, priceless times in our lives. These are times that we are carefree and joyous; times were the bad things in life don’t seem so large. When I was young, it was easy to overlook these times and not recognize what a blessing they were. As I get older, when I have one of these transient life-moments of delight interspersed between the moments of pain, it is easier to distinguish it as the glimpse into heaven that it is meant to be.
When I was in medical school, we lived in the University Cabana Apartments, affectionately known as Cabanaland. This was not some pre-professional school luxury condo. This was a section eight apartment complex in Memphis. Let me say that again so it can sink in. It was a section eight apartment in Memphis. Also, this complex had eight foot fences with razor wire around the top, and an ACTUAL moat around it. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t an actual moat as much as it was a giant culvert going around the whole property to drain overflow sewage from the city, but it did make me feel marginally safer from outside marauders. There was also a twenty-four hour armed security guard at the gate.
One sunny afternoon, Hipster Doctor found a bag of crack and money on our adjacent front porch. She, being the good Samaritan that she is, turned this over to the security guard (who incidentally was later fired for being found high in one of the public bathrooms on the property. I think there is a possible connection here, but I cannot be sure.) I think I would have flushed the crack and kept the money (considering my husband and I were living on about $9500 annually). One of the neighbors (a self-professed cocaine aficionado) came by all the time to borrow our phone (this was the day of land lines).
I miss lovely summer evenings at the Cabanas when a string of tricked out Caddys, Buicks and Cutlasses would come pick up a parade of scantily-clad, deftly made-up young women for their evening employment.
So you may ask, “What was so great about being poor in a section eight housing unit in Memphis filled with crime, drugs and hookers?” This is a valid question. No argument, but let me tell you what else the Cabanas featured. Hubby’s sister, Aunt Panda, my brother, Dr. Pepper, Wild Pharmacist, Italian Stallion, Tim The Overly Italian Optometrist, The Librarian, Art Student, Hipster Doctor, Insane Newscaster (story to follow at eleven), and Evil Genious all lived at the Cabanas.
Every single one of my friends at the time lived in Cabanaland. There was always someone to go to dinner, or a movie, or for a walk at any time. There was constant entertainment at a moment’s notice. Impromptu parties abounded, and someone always had a video game system fired up somewhere. I was too naïve at the time to realize that this was magical and something that most people don’t experience. I didn’t know that for the rest of my life I would have to work to socialize and plan for a party. It was about the last couple months as we were graduating and it was coming to an end that it hit me that this time in life was a gift from God. It was my support during a difficult time, giving me good memories and fun times to sustain me. When it was over, I mourned these times.
As I have grown in age and wisdom, I have come to distinguish these enchanted times in my life. As I was getting ready for church last week, I was standing in front of the mirror brushing my hair. My daughters were dressed in beautiful matching outfits. Z was dancing around in a sunbeam from the window with motes of dust sparkling in the air singing, “Mommy, look, sparkly!”, while Baby Bird was army crawling after her and shrieking with laughter. As I watched her exultant expression, sun shining on her hair, so delighted in this discovery that we have all experienced of the beauty of dust dancing in the sun, it hit me with a force that took my breath away that this is one of those joyful moments. I am drowning in joy.
I wish I could bottle these moments of my daughters laughing and playing as sweet chubby babies to sustain me in sad times to come. I wish I could freeze them like this. I know there are times to come when I am not their hero. There are times to come when they won’t greet me at the door with screams of excitement.
Now I know a joyful moment when I see one. These days are a gift from my Father, and my Father only gives good gifts. James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. All praise to the one who knows my heart and crafts these perfect moments just for me.