In high school my little brother saved his money to take us on a skiing trip for my birthday. He and I drove to Michigan, skied for the day and then came out to find we had car trouble and had to stay the night. Our trip was extended, we were elated. Dinner at Denny’s by the hotel, a great night’s sleep and then we hit the road. That was almost 35 years ago. We traveled together several years ago to Florida, just he and I to attend a family funeral. Until this trip though, we haven’t spent so much time together since I left for college. Our original family of five has shrunk to just us, my baby brother who truth be told was always my favorite anyway. During this extended time I got to see the man he has become, not just in snippets over dinners or phone calls. The sweet boy who hollered from his bedroom every night, “Goodnight, sis, I love you” is now a sweet 50 year old who I wish everyone could know.
He towers over me but never blocks my view. He leads without controlling where I go. He opens doors never assuming I can’t do so myself. He is generous with his heart, his manners, his time and his funds. He talks to strangers, calls them friends. He thanked every worker we saw, the guy cleaning the rooms, the woman working the late night desk. He finds value in everyone he meets then makes them aware of his discovery. It feels good to be around him. He is grace.
He sent me a text a few months ago asking if I would ride on the back of a motorcycle through Colorado if it was free. I said I would definitely ride and would start saving up. The planning began. Texts exchanged about what to wear, special events, maps of the route increased in frequency as the departure date neared. Then he had a routine surgery that wasn’t routine and we lost our income. The trip wasn’t so sure. I wondered at the wisdom of leaving my husband for two weeks at such a delicate time, at spending money we didn’t have. Yet the timing just felt right, necessary. I trusted that God had something to show me, that He had work for my Chef at home. We agreed to go on with the trip. I wasn’t sure if it was a leap of faith or just a selfish act but I felt so pulled to go, a compelling so strong to do this unknown thing with my little brother, I couldn’t stay home.
The night before I left, Chef and I had a big argument about nothing and everything, his anger erupting at me, blindsiding me. I knew it was fear, anxiety at my leaving so I took it for a bit and then decided I wanted no more. I left with a heart full of aching prayers for God to restore to me the Chef I married. I begged for God to help him find his way outside of me, for the rains to dissolve his anger while I was gone. I pleaded with every mile I traveled away from him that God might bring us closer, knowing that could only happen when my Chef found his brothers, those who set examples of grace and humility, who led without controlling, who listened without agenda, who didn’t block his sun. We couldn’t help each other but God could help us both apart, separately. He listened to my prayers.
Many miles into the trip my hurt and frustration dissolved, clarity returned. I saw the big scenes before me, the smallest details. I saw God in every blink and found the words to show compassion to my Chef, to support his journey also. I found that my trip took days to get where we were going, there was no rushing even through the rain and the cold. We had to endure to hit our destination. I realized I couldn’t rush my Chef either. All around us, we each found grace. My Chef went to lunch, went golfing, made plans for a men’s retreat. He rediscovered the more outside of work I knew waited for him. I watched my brother and his friend Mark practice patience when I needed an unscheduled stop or a waitress took too long to bring our waters. These two men just didn’t get angry. Not once. Not when I broke the cable that connected the trunk lid, not when cars cut us off, not when we had to stop to put on rain suits, again. We each were being loved, healed.
The last night in a hotel, my brother and I stayed up too late talking, remembering our mother together, sharing stories. I learned more about him, perspectives I thought were true maybe not so much. He told me about myself. He said I am the strongest person he knows. His words still rumble through my mind like the roar of the bike. I trust him but am trying to make sense of that. What I am sure of is that my baby brother is a man of God, a man who rides a Harley and sheds grace on all who are lucky enough to meet him. He gives God the glory for everything, he brings glory to God with his character. I trusted him to drive me to Colorado, a two week trip of letting go and shuffling pieces. God brought us safely home, back to my Chef and my Plum, tired and radiating light and hope. I now have grace to share with my Chef, my soul is restored.
My brother took me on a trip again. A gift greater than two teenagers traveling alone, freedom feeling like the rush of the wind as we flew down the slopes. This trip was to the mountains and the canyons, as 50somethings, who found freedom was trusting our lives to our Creator. My baby brother showed me God again, who looks an awful lot like the guy driving our bike. Someday I hope to bless him as much.