Today, we loaded up our little circus and took a drive.
The kids had a school holiday, and we planned a little fun out of the house. Didn’t matter that the weather forecast screamed “stay home” or that the clouds tried to warn us. We packed enough snacks for this crew and drove to see the animals at Dauset Trails.
In our family, this is a week for celebrating adventures. We are celebrating our “Coming Home Day” tomorrow, the day we brought our kids home. Adventure in the rain felt just right for this morning, and we had fruit snacks, so why not?
Halfway into our drive, the sky opened up, and rain began to pour. I watched the older kids’ faces. Logan, our oldest son, whispered, “Does this mean we got in the car and came all this way for nothing?”
Disappointment doesn’t always go over well with this crew.
I said, “Nope. It does not mean that at all, buddy. It means … Disney Rules! Now, you watch the clouds.”
He grinned and knew exactly what I meant.
My husband forgot this particular Disney Rule but trusted that I could avoid the whining and tears for a while with this plan.
We adore Disney World, and the first time my husband and biological son, Logan, went to Disney, I laid out my “rules.” There are many, all brilliant. There’s one about rain and storms. It goes like this.
“Watch the rain and watch the clouds. Even in gigantic storms, there is always a tiny crack in the clouds, a little hole.”
When it storms at Disney, as it does every afternoon, you do not leave the park. You do not hide away in a store or restaurant cramped up with every other goober trying not to get soaked. You put on your poncho, stand under the nearest shelter and watch. Find some quiet. Watch the rain and watch the clouds. Even in gigantic storms, there is always a tiny crack in the clouds, a little hole. The tiny bit of light that shows up as the clouds are moving. When the crack shows up, the storm is moving through and won’t last much longer. You watch for the crack in the clouds. That’s your cue that you are OK to wait this out for a few more minutes, that it is not going to storm forever.
Now, if you’re like my family, the minute you see the crack in the clouds, and the rain has begun to slow, you step right on out and hustle to the ride you want to get on. Because the lines are fabulous, everything has cooled off, and the storm is almost through.
I reminded Logan about the Disney Rule for today’s adventure. We kept driving. He watched the clouds out his window. “I see the crack!” He was right. And three minutes later, the rain stopped. “We can do it after all!” he told our crew.
I have looked for the crack in the clouds so many times over this past year, it is a skill I can bank on. The gift of parenting these children and learning about their experiences of trauma has brought us through more storms than we ever saw coming. We know storms.
But the rule still holds. I look for the crack in the clouds.
For a long time, I have heard of what Celtic people call the “thin places.” What a lovely thing, the idea of spaces where the distance between heaven and earth is made shorter, thin. I have loved that thought before and can name many moments of experiencing the thin places. Simple, sacred experiences that make me sure of love and belonging.
It’s not always quiet and reverent, though.
Often, it has been like what Eric Weiner says about the thin places: “A thin place is not necessarily a tranquil place, or a fun one, or even a beautiful one, though it may be all of those things too … . Thin places relax us, yes, but they also transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves.”
“In this year of becoming family in a new way, we have had to look for the cracks in the clouds.”
In this year of becoming family in a new way, we have had to look for the cracks in the clouds. The little spots of light, letting us know that there is movement and becoming. Parenting any child is a wild ride that can leave you feeling lost sometimes. Parenting multiple children magnifies all those feelings. Parenting multiple children who have experienced trauma is a journey that leads you through wild storms beyond any radar. It is heart-wrenching. And beautiful. And a gift we hold tightly and tenderly.
We drove through the last of the rain on our drive and got to the trails. We splashed through the puddles, fed the ducks and saw a few animals. The rain started up again, and we held hands and ran under the covered bridge. We sat on the bridge and watched the rain fall while we ate our snacks. Together.
Erin Robinson Hall lives in Macon, Ga., with her husband, Jake, and they are the parents of a blended family of biological son and foster siblings. Erin earned a doctor of educational ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary. She is a curriculum designer and communicator, is a curator for Compassionate Christianity and co-hosts a podcast called “Glass Half Full” in which she curates conversations about the rhythms of work, parenting, ministry and life.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Learn more about the gift of foster and adoption care.