I looked down at my feet in front of the perfect, white chapel and felt my breath hang caught in the middle of my throat. The air was sugar heavy and heated as it swirled with the mosquitos around my head. I felt like a small child seeing a new place for the first time - how was it that I had traveled to Georgia so many times before and never taken note of the red hues of the dirt that covered the land?
I put the toe of my sandal down into the dirt and traced swirls and curly q's over and over, again - just to see that the red was intentional and meant its color.
A family gathers in a wood floored chapel and a girl in white says "I do" to a boy whom she loves deeply. I recall looking over my shoulder behind me and seeing generations of families collected together on creaking, wooden benches and thinking about all the vows that have come before this moment; I think about the grandparents that aren't able to sit among their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren as a brunette girl with blue eyes whispers vows to that blonde boy in the coral bow tie.
Fans swat the warm air back and forth, back and forth across foreheads glistening with Georgia heat and I wipe tears threatening to rip down my face - and I see, for the first time, perhaps ever, that this is such a gift worth waiting for.
I think back to the red dirt at the foot of that church in the middle of this state I know so very little about - and I think about the pink and purple, candy colored sunsets I grew up looking at, but never really seeing, and how about those snow-filled Christmases and humidity-laden summers and here I am wishing away the now to get to the next part and just what exactly am I so hurried for? When that dirt is red and those sunsets are water colors in a sky and who exactly do I think I am to try to rush the One who created all these things and created each if us with such purpose - what is the dang gone hurry?
I sit in Dayton now - in a room with four walls that I have made my own and I am still thinking about that dirt; and I'm thinking about a tree that Mal and Casey poured soil into from each of the places they've called a part of home - and I remember that preacher's words - saying something fit and true like this tree would grow from the soil of the places that built each of them to create something new and of their very own. And isn't that just what all our lives are littered with? Moments of greatness and agony and the soil beneath our feet to help us remember where we came from and that will always compass us to where we need to go ...
The same God that breathed life into my lungs, has my name written on His hands, and gives me new chances each morning is the same One who paints the sky each night in a slew of hues of orange and pink and purple; He is the same God who made the dirt in Georgia red and the air in Colorado dry; He is the same God who brought Mallory and Casey into each other's stories and He is the one who started my whole story with a high school senior named Max and a high school freshman named Sara.
Each night, He calls out the stars one by one, and they listen. And He closes doors for us that allow new beginnings to flourish and He is always writing, writing, writing and He never changes His mind.
I swirl my foot in that imaginary dirt and remember the soft melody that carried a new Mr. and Mrs. back down an aisle and I smile at the picture of all of us together - and this is what makes the world go 'round - this is want makes the world all right, again.
The one who can decorate the sky in sorbet-colored promises is the same One who can heal a wounded spirit and bring pieces of a heart from all over the states to one piece again. He made the cornfields grow and the dirt that deep red.
And while He was doing all of that and while He keeps it all thriving, He managed to change the map of a weary, broken heart - and He gives hydration to a dusty soul. And He will keep on fueling this broken world and allowing it to spin.
I'll sit in Dayton and dream about that dirt and smile at memories snapped by a camera and remember that a day should begin with intentional recognition of just all He is capable of - with wide-eyed wonder and pure glee at what He accomplishes.