I was sitting at the park last night with ninety-plus Catholic homeschooling associates. It was our annual back-to-school potluck picnic. One dad cooked hotdogs; another had oodles of boys on the field playing Frisbee; older girls stood chatting; younger ones were cartwheeling and running free; babies were being passed around; new people introduced. I loved it. I love these friends, their kids, my kids, and for that matter, this park with the close mountains on one side and a view of our sprawling desert city on the others.
Kevin and Joe missed the picnic for a Scout campout in California. Today, Cayna told her dad what a wonderful park it was. She loved the vast expanse of grassy field and said breathlessly, "It was as big as twenty-five mansions' backyards!"
After we ate, us planning types gathered to put dates on the calendar for yearly parties and field trips. It was twilight. Kids were laughing and playing, the littler ones approaching the circle of moms and dads occasionally to check in or get a water refill. I had many of my closest friends right beside me, or nearby, and my children were happy and my mind was free of the usual clutter that piles up on most days. I remember being aware of my friends but suddenly everything seemed oddly quiet to me - like the moment in a movie when the director gets super-artistic and wants a special scene to be engraved in the viewer's memory. Even the ever-present soundtrack pauses. It couldn't have been actually quiet - not with that many people in close proximity. Twenty-five yards away, on the baseball field, the dad who led the Frisbee game was now flying a remote-control biplane. It climbed and dipped and landed, sometimes harshly if a little boy was helping - but mostly glided and swooped and caught my attention a hundred times. During that quiet moment, the airplane had my attention - while my children and my friends filled my heart. The moment wasn't lost. The director did a good job. I'll never forget that moment in the park going into our fourth year of homeschool with sweet children, good friends, mansion-grass, and a red, white, and blue biplane.