Last night, I stood at the corner of a parking lot in downtown Denver and watched the sun sink slowly and magnificently over the city skyline.
Sometimes, it’s good and healthy and beautiful to see your own ordinary life from a new lens. Sometimes, it’s important to walk the sidewalks of your own city and watch the sunset from your own neighborhood. To remember the richness of your life, and the provision of the Lord in your days and your place.
This weekend, I got to do exactly that. I ate and explored and adventured and truly savored each moment, every day revealing new depth and nuance in my own backyard.
A dear friend and pen pal of mine was in town, and I got to take her to some of my favorite local spots, and many places in Denver that I had been wanting to try but just hadn’t made it to.
I was constantly telling her: “Gosh, I’ve always wanted to try this brunch place!” or “I can’t wait to go to that coffee shop!” or “I have never had a chance to tour this part of town. And now I get to!”
It was a whole weekend of ‘get to’.
With her by my side, and in taking on the role of tour guide, I got to see and taste and experience the wonder already here, the palpable and exciting buzz that already brackets my day-to-day working and playing.
I got to see the beauty in my own place.
As our weekend unfolded, I got to rediscover how the sun turns the sky into shades of gold over the mountains, light reflecting onto restaurants and shops and businesses. I got to see families laughing over pizza at patio cafes and couples walking their dogs to the park. I got to watch shop owners collecting inventory and witness small neighborhoods come to life with weekenders.
I got to watch baristas talk proudly about the subtle notes of different types of espresso, and waitresses talk proudly about the local farmers that contributed to the salads and protein on their menu.
I got to watch friends from different parts of my life mingle and get to know one another, laughing over ice cream at one of our favorite places, and asking deep questions over nachos under the market lights on our back patio.
I got to remember that my place – these people and this neighborhood and this world given to me – is full of hope and beauty and kind people at every turn.
This week, as we do good work and write the truth and care for students and friends and the people in our circles, let’s practice looking for the beauty.
Let’s practice the belief that we not only ‘have to’ in life – we ‘get to’.
We get to walk in the beauty that’s already present in our places, in our day-to-day.
Our ‘get to’ is God’s gift to us in this life.
We get to walk freely, because He is graceful toward us. We get to connect deeply with friends (like the gorgeous gal in these photos), because He is relational and created us to be the same. We get to encounter life with a curious and awe-filled spirit because (as my sweet roommate and friend has echoed several times this summer) He created beauty for us to enjoy it.
We ‘get to’ savor our own life, because He has crafted it.
Our God is good, and He is for our good. His provision and His sovereignty are marvelous and ever-true.
He has given us people and work and dreams, and He is refining us into our best selves through both the good and the hard. The mountain and the valley. The vacation and the everyday task.
Our choice is our lens.
Let us choose this week to see through the lens of opportunity and hope.
Let us choose to see the beauty that exists in our own streets and sidewalks and backyards, ever-growing and ever-new for us to discover.
We get to, friends. And for that, on this Monday morning, I am deeply thankful.
“Believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without ever realizing it.”
– Shauna Niequist, from Cold Tangerines