The BLOG: Voices

Belonging, and the curious promise of limited time

Wednesday night’s AWANA night. The kids have been in the program for three years, and you could say the Wednesday AWANA drill’s pretty well established.

One Wednesday night a month or two ago I was pulling out of the church parking lot after dropping my kids at AWANA. The colors of dusk were coming up in the spring sky. I saw two minivans, carbon copies of my own, moving through the lot. I instinctively placed the vans – the moms who drove them, the kids who were in them. And just as instinctively, I knew they knew me too; there was mutual regard between us. And I can’t even remember if we waved or not, got close enough to, at that 5:30 pm dropoff passing, but an unbidden feeling of warming washed over me. I felt among friends. I felt, all of a sudden, profoundly thankful for the gift of this town, and of having place in it. For community: knowing and being known.

I found myself running a reflexive scan, an internal compare-and-contrast, with our earliest AWANA evenings as Virgini – navigating the routine and building and parking lot as rookies. I thought of being new, and the wading and waiting through days and months till eventually we’d won belonging. Till we’d won the gift of being known and expected – as simple being able to identify a person by the car she drives and having her recognize your.

Gift – to belong, to have place. Too many – the orphan, the widow, the alien, the prisoner, any of “the least of these” – live their days without such luxury. Knowing and being known are, I think among the best gifts the Father gives… And among the easiest to overlook. I experienced them as I did, I think, because I knew our time in Virginia was soon coming to a close. Knowing it’s soon to end made the experience sweeter.

Not long ago I was introduced to the podcast “On Being” by Krista Tippett, a stellar addition to my spring. I heard an interview with Quaker folksinger Carrie Newcomer, and in it Newcomer talks about the benefits of grasping the finiteness of time. “When you know that time is limited,” she says, “it makes a thing a little more poignant, more powerful.” As she uttered the words, my van-in-parking-lot scene materialized in my mind… And I knew that moment, at once mundane and sublime, was encapsulated in her words.

As part of the interview podcast, Newcomer played her song “Every Little Bit of It,” and this phrase in the lyrics stood out to me: “the curious promise of limited time.” When you move frequently, there are challenges and losses, yes, but there are blessings too… And one blessing is the gifts that come through this curious promise. Limited time prompts reflection, presses you deeper to see what’s been gained in that chapter, and to appreciate the positives that routine might otherwise obscure. It provides the chance to hold and relish the beauty of something as simple as identifying a person by the car she drives. And even while we soon we will be a new place where we won’t recognize any cars (or anybody) for a good while, I’ll hold the beauty of community and relationship in our heart – relishing the gift and trusting its provision for the new chapter too. And whatever other gifts the curious promise of limited time, and the God who gives them, may have for us in the new place.

Susan Arico

Susan Arico

Susan Arico — wife, mom, and strategy consultant — can be found at