I'm a keeper.
I sat on a picnic blanket with a sweet friend in the park today, bathing in fresh sunshine and sharing conversation during a lunch hour I actually managed to take for once. For one who values meals as much as I do, lunch is the meal I lose every day to the glow of my computer screen and the hum of my space heater. But today I stole away - it's amazing how when you don't take a lunch break, actually taking one feels like you are doing something wrong - and ate in the park, welcoming the spring sunshine.
I sat with my friend and between bites of sandwich, we shared little pieces of our hearts, about how we're grownups now and our lives seem to keep changing in ways that we never would have expected.
My heart aches with dying dreams.
Not in a bad way, of course, but in a bittersweet, growing up, different person kind of way.
One of my favorite blogs published a post yesterday called Dreamers and Keepers. It was a post that moved me to tears because of the nerve it struck - it resonated with the Melanie of so many years ago and at the same time, the Melanie of today. It reminded me of someone I always thought I would be.
In the post, Sarah Clarkson defines two different kinds of people: dreamers and keepers.
Dreamers, she said, are "hungry-hearted, with wanderlust thrumming in their blood and eager brains, ever in search of what lies a fingertip just out of reach ... They are the explorers, the artists, the sailors, and searchers who ever beat down the walls of the known, intent upon finding what has never been found."
I read that and immediately thought "oh that's me - definitely a dreamer." And I used to be a dreamer, with grand ambitions and unrelenting drive. But I'm not any more.
I'm a keeper.
Clarkson says keepers are "glad-eyed and frank-faced souls, who settle and stay with a faithful joy ... they feel instead the dance of the seasons, the cadence of days as time sings in the here and now. The present reaches a powerful hand from the deep earth and roots them, happy, to their one place in the wide world. They craft and build, they keep what is civil and lovely alive, they master the art of life lived richly ... Keepers are the good kings who set their hearts to cultivation instead of conquest, the Jane Austens who revel in the merriment of every day. They are the rulers and builders, the farmers and reapers of harvests, the faithful who keep all that is good in place throughout the ages."
I never thought that I would be content to stay put, but it's all I want. Not necessarily in the physical sense, for I assume we won't always be here in our little condo in Nashville. But I do want to settle, and to rest, and to build a home full of little dreamers of our own, who we will raise in faith and with as much grace as we can muster. I want a garden and a shelf of cookbooks with earmarked pages and notes scribbled in the margins. I want a home that bursts at the seams with love and hospitality, with doors that are never closed (in the metaphorical sense, of course) and beds and chairs that are never empty.
In some ways, it's a hard mind-shift to make, because I was raised with the belief that I could - and should - do anything. So there's a funny film of guilt clouding this whole desire, because I feel like as woman I should want to do "more" outside the home. And isn't that such a funny thing?
The dreamer in me is dreaming still, but of very different things ... of living in sync with the seasons, of finding rhythms in the everyday, of delighting in the ordinary. Clarkson again says, "Beauty is cultivated by the keepers who shore up the world with civility, even as dreamers sail back and forth in search of newer, unknown good."
May I be a cultivator of beauty, a keeper of all things sweet and lovely and comforting. May I be surrounded by dreamers who will come home from the day to peace, quiet, and a hot meal that warms the belly and the soul. And may we together bring a little more of Heaven to life on Earth, and as each day passes be more grateful that we are a step closer to it all being redeemed.