There is a time in life. A very special time in the life of any bouncing, well-manicured young wife. A time when she leans in to to her husband, feeling his arms wrapping around her, and whispers into his neck, “Oh honey, let’s have a baby.”
Fast forward a bit.
There is another time in life. A very special time in the life of any tired, un-showered young mama. A time when her husband comes home from work, and she gives him a quick kiss before finishing changing the baby’s diaper. She secures baby in the swing, and her husband sheds his work jacket and tools. While she’s cooking dinner, he wraps his arms around her. She sighs, turning to him. Nuzzling into his embrace, she whispers into his neck, “Oh honey, it’s garbage night.”
Fast forward just a few seconds.
Later that night, they ate dinner. The chicken was almost underdone, and the rice had parts that crunched in their teeth, but the salad was delicious. He thanked her, earnestly, for making dinner. She gathered the dishes into the sink. After baby has been put to bed, they faced each other in the living room. This mama and daddy took a long look at each other, silently playing the game of “Not-It” while the chore hung overhead. She shrugged, grabbing a heavy coat. “Come on.” She said, “I’ll help you take the cans out to the curb.”
Thus they delve into a mystery: a trash can vacation.
The sky is black and the stars shine sharply. They grab a can each, and her husband grabs a third. The plastic wheels roar on the pavement down the driveway. She looks up and down the dark street. Cars and trees are still. The January nights stares from the orange streetlight. They let the cans down with a thud, scraping them into place in front of the street gutter. Another glance between them, and they begin back, side by side. He says how he would like to hold her hand, but their hands are dirty with trash can germs. So they walk together, albeit untouching. They stop, far from the porch light, and look up. The same stars that ever were, shine down. There is Orion. There are… other stars. She only ever remembers Orion. Her husband points out the little dipper. He always does. There they stand, beside each other. It’s so quiet. It’s so vast. It’s so very not holding a baby, or working all day. It’s time. Time just to be. Together. Gazing into the vast galaxy of enormous space, and time. While staring upward together, she silently poses a question. Are you still with me? More time passes. They talk about the world, and the baby, and the weekend. All while staring upward. She sighs at the relief of perspective, and takes her very small place in God’s great universe. More silent time passes. She leans her head on his jacket shoulder. For a moment, they are dating again: stealing more time together than curfew allowed. Thrilling at each others’ scent. Feeling the physics of magnetism drawing their bodies close. Another moment passes. She feels the question silently answered. Yes, I am still with you.
Soon the cold wheedles its chill through their clothes and touches off shivers. They look at each other, and turn in toward the porch light. In toward a bed of heavy blankets. In toward another day racing at them. It could be unbearable – the relentless piles of work that are these days of being a young family – unbearable but for the help of the Lord, and these: trash can vacations. Rolling out garbage together in the dark. Stealing time like teenagers. Gaping at stars as sharp and bright as icicles. Answering each others’ silent questions. All to the humming soundtrack of God’s great black universe.