welcome home / by Carey Pace

I'd been gone six whole days to them, and was late returning.  I was hurrying as fast as you can hurry in a vehicle and obey the traffic laws.  As I made the final turn into our driveway, those last rays of sunlight burned through the ridge of trees that line the edge of our backyard.  If you've spent any time around me at all, you can't help but learn I notice the light.  Always.  Once I learned how to SEE light, I couldn't turn it off.  

The first place that caught my eye was the lowest leaves on the far right trees.  The burnt orange color of the light this time of day only intensified the burnt orange tone the leaves had taken on in my short absence.  The sun was illuminating those few lone leaves right along the bottom in the same way the sun illuminates the hair around my daughter's head, and it was so very beautiful.  Immediately I was torn. 

My mind processed in a frenzy.  "I just got home. I've been gone nearly a week.  I want to go take pictures of those leaves and that light right now.  It would only take a second or two.  Then I could run inside. I'd make myself just take a few; limit my time.  But they'll notice.  And what does that communicate?  It would make them feel they aren't important to me. That isn't true, so I need to lay my camera down.  The sun will shine again, and I'll get that picture another day.  I know I'd be awfully hurt if Shawn were to come home from a week away and went to something other than me upon arrival. But goodness gracious, that is so very beautiful. I want to photograph it so badly."

I parked the van, stepped out, and that is when I noticed him.  My son was swinging on the tree swing set in the middle of that ridge of trees -- swinging in that glorious yet fleeting light just before the sun dips below the horizon.  They were outside!  I grabbed my real camera and ran.

He greeted me with the most wonderful hug.  Goodness, I missed him more than I knew.  And he asked if I wanted to take pictures.  He knows me well.  I realized he was alone out there, and I asked where his dad and sister were.  "Inside," he replied simply.  He'd just come out to swing all alone, and for reasons I can't quite articulate, that made my introvert heart glad.  

I didn't touch my camera once during my trip away.  It was a busy time and I didn't really think about it.  But from the first press of the shutter that evening, it was as if a missing part of me had gone clunk back into place.  "Ahhhhh, yes.  Yesssssss.  This.  This is who you are."  Nothing felt more right than wielding my choice of paintbrush at the gasp-worthy beauty around me.  I hadn't noticed in my absence how that part of me had been neglected.  But oh, how it made me feel to have it back.  

Soon his sister saw me through the window and came running.  She gave me the best hug I think I've ever experienced.  She's always been so good at hugs (I take zero credit for that), but this one topped them all.  Then I saw Shawn slowly bringing things out to the table on the back patio.  He was preparing dinner, and doing the job I usually do when I'm home.   I made my way to him to finally give him the hug he deserved for indulging me this trip and caring for everything in my stead.  

With a grin on his face he said, "I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away from that light." 

I heaved a huge, grateful sigh.  "I hoped you wouldn't be upset that I chose to take pictures first," I hesitantly confessed.  "Not at all," he answered.  He told me that my need to take pictures of beautiful things in beautiful light is something he loves about me. 

What a blessing to be in a place so supported, where there is freedom to be who I am.  What a blessing to be in a marriage with a man who knows me probably better than I know myself.  What a blessing to be able to go forth and spend a few moments doing something that brings me such satisfaction without the fear of stepping on toes.  

What a wonderful welcome home.