I spent a recent morning in the Decatur post office.
You’ll have a better grasp of what a big deal this was when I explain that I’d do just about anything to avoid going to the post office. Bill will confirm that fact.
This, however, was a special mission.
I needed to renew my passport which is a bit ironic for a woman who, for a lot of boring logistical reasons, needs to negotiate dog-sitter time for a quick trip to the Farmers Market.
But, let’s back up just a bit.
I hate paperwork. I hate government forms. I’m none too fond of having my picture taken.
So why did I find myself leaning against the wall, waiting for the door to the passport kingdom to open at 9:15 on a Thursday morning?
I love my kids!
And this year, we’re going on a cruise for Christmas.
I can’t wait! And yet, complications abound.
First, there are the usual sort.
When is school out? Who has to work when? Which choices are–shall we say–better investments?
Then there are the somewhat more complicated sort. Names. Birth certificates. Social Security cards. Not numbers. Just cards.
Then there are the really cosmic sort. You see, we made these plans just before the 2017 onslaught of hurricanes started.
It’s entirely possible that we’re getting on a boat headed for several places that aren’t there anymore.
On the one hand, it’s no big deal. I’ll happily float around and teach the girls to play Cribbage.
On the other hand, it’s a huge deal for the world.
I have friends in South Florida. And Puerto Rico. And the Dominican Republic.
Friends who are thrilled that, even though they lost all their stuff, their houses are still standing. And friends who are less thrilled.
Friends who are still wondering when they will have power and clean water.
I also have friends who don’t have the luxury of being able to plunk down some papers from the file cabinet so they can go where they want to be.
And a whole bunch more friends who are trying, with every fiber of their beings, to figure out what you and I can do about all of that.
There don’t seem to be any easy answers.
In fact, the best thing I’ve got is to hang out with people asking the same questions.
Here’s where my list starts:
More experience. Less stuff.
Getting out of our personal safe spaces and meeting people from other places.
Hearing the stories those people need to tell.
Voting for people who realize that climate change is important and urgent and real.
So, a couple of months from now, I’m getting on a boat with the people I love the most, and a whole bunch more I’ve never met.
Pens and paper and cameras will no doubt be involved.
So will some conversations about blessings. And how to share them.
I don’t know what will change in our lives because of this trip, but I’m pretty sure we’ll learn some things we don’t know now.
Sure enough to show up at the Decatur post office at 9:15 in the morning and sign papers, swear oaths, and write a very official check, all to make the cruise, which may be going to nowhere, a possibility.
I’m betting my girls and I will learn something.
Also, I suspect, that the world is both huge and very, very close by.