The Easter Gift

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word “patience” means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” Henri Nouwen

There are two kinds of people that buy a boat and head out to sea. Those that “have” and those that “have not”. For those that have, they buy a new boat, stock it up, and follow their destiny. Those that have not, must buy an older boat, spend a lengthy amount of time fixing up that boat, and stress and agonize over how to make this venture work. Unfortunately, we fall into the “have not” category and I can say first hand, preparing for this journey is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.

Dan and I have been trying to be patient. Dan is much more patient than I. The last few weeks have been the toughest so far. We had an open house a few weeks ago. Subsequently, not one single person has requested to see our house. I began to despair, lose patience, and even become despondent. I would go to visit our boat, sitting on the hard, looking like a fish out of water, and grieve that she could not be floating again. The waves and motion of the water give the boat life, make her come alive. Sitting on the barren ground, propped up by stands, the boat looks sad. The sight of her is a constant reminder of how far away we are from our goal of casting off the lines and heading out to sea. Then, I would return to my empty house, void of all personal items, no animals, no cat or dogs to greet me, and have to sit in the sad pallor and be reminded of how badly I need to move on.

Besides the fact of having no prospects for our house, other than 3 very low offers, the list of boat repairs we need to make continues to grow. Having the boat out of the water has given us time to go over her with a fine tooth comb. I spent 2 days polishing wax off the hull in preparation for sanding and repainting, while Dan pulled up the floorboards in our aft head as they need to be replaced. Upon pulling up the floorboards, Dan discovered other projects, hidden beneath the rotting floorboards. The list of repair items grows. We discovered water in two areas in the cabin indicating leaks coming from the topside. Two more projects added to the list. Each of these projects has to be researched, the materials for repair gathered, and then the repairs can take place. It is daunting, to say the least. The only caveat is that as I look back at the farm we built from scratch and all the monumental work we did to get our house on the market – we can do this too. Everything has to be put in perspective, and the amount of work we have already done pales in comparison to these existing tasks.

Our goal is now to leave by the end of June, our drop dead date. Last week, I got on my knees and prayed to God everyone I know in heaven and begged, “Please help us – can’t someone do something to help us move this along?” I have been a big believer in signs, inspirational moments that seem to be leading us down this path that I have so firmly known is our destiny. If you have read my previous blog posts, there have been many signs and little miracles that have given lift to our wings as we fly toward this adventure. This past month, it seemed as if we have strayed from that path. My hope was fading, my patience was waning, and for the first time, doubt was creeping into my thoughts. Dan came home from work on Good Friday, to find me very depressed. He took me out for a walk in the park and talked me through my crisis. He reminded me that things take time, we need to keep the faith, and while things might not be happening in our time frame, that didn’t mean they weren’t going to happen. We ended the evening at a bar, overlooking the Delaware River, and toasted the sunset. His kindness, understanding, and compassion, reminded me of why I love this man so much and how I know that together, we will be able to endure whatever obstacles lie ahead.

Saturday, we spent the day working on our boat and as the sun began to set, we took our place on the stern. With our Dark and Stormies for Captain’s Hour, we watched the last glow of the sun cast its colors across the horizon. We sat and talked, and dreamed, and both realized that sitting there, not even on the water, we were totally content. We didn’t even need to be on the water or in an exotic port, we were totally happy just being together, sitting on our boat. It was a good feeling and it warmed us both to the core as we drove once again back to our empty house. The next day would be Easter morning. My boys and their families, my precious 2-year-old grandson, would be joining us for brunch. I would miss my daughter and her husband who live in California, but it would be nice getting together with the others to celebrate the holiday that has always represented to me the opportunity for new life, new beginnings and hew hope. Dan went to bed, but I was restless as usual, multitudes of thoughts cascading through my brain to the point I knew trying to sleep was futile.

Each holiday that has passed these last few months, I had thought would be the last in this home. Each holiday that arrives, is one more indication that we are well past our goal of being gone but is also precious gift in that we get to spend one more day with our family.

It was approaching midnight when I went to my computer. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t tired as I’m usually in bed by 10:00. Here it was almost midnight and sleep was the farthest thing from my overworking mind. I checked Facebook, and then on a whim, clicked on my email. There was one new email from a real estate agent that had represented a couple last fall who had put an offer on our house. We had counter offered but didn’t get a reply. I paused, wondering what she would be wanting, six months later. I opened the message and it seemed the couple was still interested in our property and they had a few questions for us. I answered them, then finally decided it was time for bed, I had a long morning of food and Easter gift preparations for our family gathering the following day.

I slept restlessly. 5 AM arrived and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Quietly, so as not to disturb Dan, I slipped out of bed. I found it ironic that this was the first Easter Sunday morning in years we were not attending a sunrise service. In years past, it was always a daunting task to get up, get dressed for church and arrive at the location of the service without being late. I must have the muscle memory of this tradition as my internal alarm woke me before dawn. I prepared a cup of tea and headed out to the front porch for my own, personal, Easter morning sunrise service. In the 30 years I’ve lived in this house, I have never sat on my front porch, alone, and watched the sunrise. It was kind of special. The air was warm and humid for an April morning. The day before had been hot, so there was a blanket of fog shrouding the cooler ground. It reminded me of the shroud of Jesus described in the Easter morning services. Then, there was a break in the fog in the distance.

A red blossom appeared as the sun peered over the horizon. Its warmth grew, spread and the day began to brighten, casting away the lingering haze. Finally, with a backdrop of a brilliant white, flowering apple tree, the sun broke free and appeared to me. It was my own special sunrise, bringing me new hope and spreading a loving warmth throughout my soul. I snapped a picture of the moment, even though it would be forever etched in my mind.

The sun had fully risen. I went back into the house and made another cup of tea. It was only 6:30 and I still didn’t want to wake Dan. I went to my computer and pulled up my email, still curious about last night’s message. There was a new email from the agent. I looked at the time stamp. It had appeared at 12:05, the first email on Easter morning, 5 minutes into the new day. I clicked on it and opened the message.

“My client is very interested in moving forward quickly on buying your house. They have accepted your counter offer.”

Tears rolled down my face. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had just communed with the most beautiful and significant sunrise of my life and didn’t expect any more gifts on this day. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breathe, I just sat there reading the message over and over again. What were the chances of getting an offer on Easter morning, not much less 5 minutes into the new day? I couldn’t contain myself, so I went into the kitchen and made Dan a cup of tea. I snuck back into the bedroom and stood with the cup in my hand, next to Dan, and began to sing. I had a difficult time keeping it together, but I softly sang the words to a song I sang as a child on a sunrise service in the mountains of Colorado. We sang this song as the sun appeared over the snow-capped Rockies, and it was one of the most poignant memories of Easter I have ever experienced.

“Morning has broken, like the first morning. Blackbirds have spoken, like the first bird. Praise for the singing. Praise for the morning. Praise for them springing fresh from the world. Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven. Like the first dewfall on the first grass. Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden. Sprung in completeness where his feet pass.”

Dan’s eyes fluttered open. He stared at me as if I had lost my mind. I handed him his tea and he sat up and propped the pillows behind him. I crawled into bed next to him and gave him a hug and described the beautiful sunrise to him. He was a bit upset I had not woken him to share it, but I showed him the picture of it on my camera. Then, trying not to cry, I described the email I received before I went to bed, and then the one I received moments after midnight. Many of our past inspirational events have centered around the premise that Dan’s mother is watching over us and has had a hand in helping us when we’ve needed it the most. I relayed my thoughts that she once again played a part in this miracle, and did it in the most poignant fashion possible. A tear rolled down Dan’s cheek as he whispered, “Easter morning was the last morning I saw my mother alive.”

I had a hard time keeping it together during Easter day. It was incredible watching my grandson finally old enough to share in the joy of Easter fun and watching him dash around the yard, finally grasping the concept of egg hunting. Our family relished the moments we had together, none of them aware that this would probably be our last holiday together in their childhood home. Dan and I decided to keep the news to ourselves on this day, as we didn’t want to dampen their enthusiasm for our celebration. We know it will be hard for them to watch us leave. We can only hope they will join us on our adventures for certain periods of time, in fun locations around the world, so they too can benefit from our journey.

It is Monday following Easter. I have no idea what the next few weeks will bring. I do know that even if for some reason this offer does not go through, I do know that there must be a really good reason for us to be staying. I feel invigorated, hopeful, and patient once again.

If it is meant for us to leave by June, then this house will sell, we will get our boat in shape to sail, and our adventures will begin. If not, our boat waits, and Dan and I will sit on the stern and watch the sunsets, content that we have our boat, we have each other, and our real happy place is just being together. And in the wise advice of Mr. Nouwen, I will remember, “…patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”

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