The Visitor Stays

{You can read about The Visitor’s Arrival here.}

Our visitor had no intentions of leaving, so life began with him now in it. We thought, moved and planned with him in mind as he now influenced every step we took. He, like all visitors, carried luggage that now needed unpacked and moved in as we allowed room.

His first days in our home were the most difficult. Even speaking his name felt like an intrusion, a confirmation of the interruption he was causing. We felt we had been just fine without him, now allowing him in felt a little like we were giving in or giving up and it certainly felt like we were a spectacle to behold. I could almost hear the whispers of others…

“How are they doing?”

“Do you think they’ll be ok?”

“Please pray for them-they have a visitor that isn’t leaving…”

Sleepless nights blurred to hazy days when I would look out the window longingly at the greener grass of normal in everyone else’s yards, wondering if we could at least attempt a life as close to theirs as possible. I’d turn back to stark new reality and stumble over our visitor’s bulky and awkward suitcase, still not used to its presence, spilling its contents onto the floor. This big bag of uncertainty was now a mess on my floor to be dealt with, to be confronted, to be folded and made sense of. New colors, strange patterns, foreign fabrics…everything was unfamiliar and it seemed there was no place to put it all away-so there it stayed, an intrusive reminder that there were things I couldn’t make neat and tidy.

But after a few weeks of stepping over the mess, paralyzed to put any of it away, I got down on my knees and began putting things into a semblance of order the best I could. A little bit here, a little more there but only what was necessary to survive, nothing more. It seemed he was asking so much of us, our visitor. His requests were unending which I felt was rather presumptuous if you really want to know. He asked of me give up the safe feeling of knowing things would be ok. He asked me to consider opening my hands to predictable, calculated days and to accept hours of waiting and questions. He declared that I did not have simple answers when someone asked how I was doing. It was more complicated now, with 100 shades of “fine” or “not fine”. He requested I sit and watch microscopic milestones unfold, an inch at a time for months on end.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

I found him a little rude if I was honest. Showing up uninvited, expecting us to move over and give him room. He felt loud and obnoxious without saying a word and I wished he’d never come.

But there was redemption in his story too. He offered a new lens with which to view life now. We moved slower now, our quick answers quieted, and there was newfound thankfulness for the miracles we had grown bored of. Empathy multiplied and there was kinship with others who had visitors of their own. Patience for chaos and celebrations for things we never saw as praiseworthy were the way of things now. New dreams formed out of the dust of our old ones and expectations were now framed with an open mind instead of rigid corners.

And time has passed and he’s become quieter. His requests continue but they don’t feel so offensive and foreign.  He stays on, our visitor. He resides with us always, a permanent fixture I’ve become so accustomed to and at the same time will never fully understand. And there are many more bags to unload-I keep discovering them as he leaves them out for me. I imagine we will be unpacking forever, each season presenting a new wardrobe of his. And all at once I’ll realize again that things are not as they should be and just as they should be all at the same time.

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