It was a beautifully sunny day in my city, with a cool wind keeping everything wonderfully balanced. As I drove by Dairy Queen, I decided to go through the drive-thru and get a chocolate sundae. Instead of schlepping it home, I pulled into a nearby parking lot, rolled down my car window and enjoyed the treat right then and there.
I dipped my spoon into the creamy ice cream mountain.
Sitting quietly, enjoying my impulse buy, I watched people come and go from a nearby market. I noticed how some people were very methodical in the way they emptied their carts into the back of their cars. I began trying to guess who would simply toss their groceries inside their car, without a care – and who would have a meticulous system to their unloading routine.
…as I dipped my red DQ spoon into the chocolate-covered vanilla.
Maybe it was the loveliness of the day, or perhaps it was the lulling of the nearby robins’ song that took my mind deeper into thought. Similar to the Casablanca line, I found myself wondering, ‘Of all the parking lots in all the states, how did I find myself in Omaha on this day and at this time?’
Scooping ice cream as I thought.
I began looking back at the trajectory of my life. I thought about the many things to which I keep returning. The things that so solidly make up the core of who I am. I thought about the ways in which my thought-patterns and ideals and beliefs have melded and shifted and changed over time. It was an interesting birds eye view of stability mixed with organic fluidity.
All the while, I was slowly dipping my spoon into the ice cream and enjoying my sweet afternoon snack.
Because art and creativity have been such a constant in my life, I began to notice the patterns evolving in my ice cream cup.
Whereas I was mindlessly eating my chocolate sundae before, I began to purposefully watch as I dug in and lifted out a spoonful of vanilla, the chocolate syrup, mixed with melted ice cream would slowly creep into the void like lava, and fill in the empty place I was leaving behind. The patterns were ever-changing and constantly moving as they found other places in which to trickle into.
It didn’t take long for my mind to make the connection. Throughout my life, as things and places and people were removed, others began trickling into their place. Work opportunities arose when others were removed. Friends rose up and filled the void of others that left, or from which I moved away. As difficult times crept in, joy would inevitably follow suit.
I sat there, in this market parking lot on a sunny-but-cool Midwestern day, filled with joy. My heart was brimming with the gratitude that this evolving, ever-changing, void-meets-lava life I have been living is God’s loving gift to me. I understood the platitude, ‘When one door opens…’ in a whole new light.
Be still and know… Sometimes moments of holy connectedness happen in a busy parking lot, surrounding an indulgent treat, in the quiet moments of simply being alone with yourself and with your thoughts. I’m glad I allowed my mind to wander aimlessly for just a few minutes.
God seized that simple moment to throw His arms around me and remind me that He knows me. He knows me well. He knows the voids I have feared and has always refilled them with things and people and opportunities that far surpass anything I could ever hope or dream.
I am standing in a moment of deep and abiding thanksgiving.