During the night, I hear something scratching at the door.
Desperately, that something tries coming to me, for me, through the mesh of the tent under the star-filled sky and I am stumbling from my sleeping bag for the door.
But the tent door is gone and in its place is an OR door where a masked surgeon bends low over a corpse, and when I burst through the door, he lifts his head and his eyes are sad. “You aren’t welcome here anymore,” his voice is low, muffled by the mask. “You aren’t welcome because you failed the last test.”
It’s pitch black outside when I surface from my dreams, drenched in sweat. I remind myself I’m still in the nursing program, Mayo Clinic hasn’t banned me, and school starts in a week and yes, I’m ready for the coming semester. Really, I am, because I have God and He gives strength and I won’t forget Him when things get busy… will I?
Eyes heavy with the weight of that one question, I fall back asleep.
Then morning comes. Glorious sun streams through the tall pines and I awake, draw cool, Northern air deep into lungs and slip from my sleeping bag. I watch as each thankful breath to God curls in wisps before my face and I wonder if God didn’t possibly make the night so every morning, we would welcome Him just as the sun welcomes the earth to wake.
Moments later, sitting on the dock, I lift my coffee mug to my lips and my Bible is open before me, and here, in the light, my heart stills and I am home again, this place where my pen had touched paper for the first time and God had spoken.
To my left, my dad and younger brother fish, their sleek canoe barely visible against the lake shimmering like a sea of diamonds caught in the sun. To my right, a fire crackles. A loon laughs in the distance. A chipmunk, very likely the one trying to get into my tent last night, scampers over rocks.
Here, in the light, it is easy to be brave. To trust God. To be optimistic, even.
My mom, gray hair all a-tangle atop her head, sits in the chair next to me and we are silent for a moment because she sees my Bible and knows this is a time for silence. Eventually, I clear my throat and ask, “How do we bottle this up so we can take it home with us?”
I don’t need to explain to her. I wave my hand at everything before me, over the stillness, over the quietness. When I draw my hand back to my Bible, she speaks.
“We don’t. That’s why we have to keep coming back.”
And I know she isn’t talking about coming back to this Northern land, but instead, she’s talking about coming back to the stillness. To the place where quietness can enter the heart. To the simple act of noticing God in everything.
“School starts again for me soon,” I whisper it, so as not to ruin this moment.
She nods again, and I marvel at the way a mother can keep up with a conversation with so many unspoken words because she knows I’m talking about the chaos of nursing clinicals, energy drink-fueled studying, and stressful tests.
“We just have to keep coming back,” she nods at my Bible and gratitude fills my eyes for my mother who is able to say so much in so few words.
I can’t promise I won’t get busy this next semester. I can’t promise I won’t get stressed when a test doesn’t result in a good score. I can’t promise I won’t have trouble trusting my future into His hands.
But this much I can promise.
I will remember to keep coming back.