I'm not very good at keeping surprises and I almost blew this one a few weeks ago. Steel has been anxious to see more family since he's been away at school and was really looking forward to the Almeidas making the trip to Oregon for today's game. What he didn't know was that they brought his grandparents along with them. Their initial flight was delayed so they barely made it to campus before Steel had to leave for the pre-game meal. All of the Almeidas jumped out of the car to greet him, but Vava and Papa waited in the van. After he said his hellos, I told him they had a surprise for him in the van and I slid the door open to reveal John and Doralice. I don't know how to write about what happened next... other than to say that the whole energy changed. It is as if God flipped the switch and in an instant we were all choked up... unified by the same emotion. We all felt the transfer from joy and happiness to respectful gratitude. In a heartbeat... we were all present in the same grace filled moment.
I have been reminded a lot lately to live in the moment. God exists in the present. It is so easy to be distracted by the past or the future that we miss what is happening to us right now... and it's really all we have. It is such a powerful experience when it happens that it can be a little frightening. To experience it simultaneously with the people I love the most was almost overwhelming. My mother-in-law said it best. If nothing else good happened the trip, it was worth the effort just to experience that one moment.
What a thrill it was to watch Steel take the field for the first play of the game with the knowledge that he knew we were there to witness. Family is very important to Steel and I can imagine how full his heart was knowing that the people who love him the most were all there.
It rained the entire game... but it didn't matter. All was right in the world for one afternoon. Rain is different in Oregon. It is not the "bother" that it is here in California. It just... is. The locals don't even pay attention to the rain... it doesn't stop anything or change any plans. It really is remarkable. Attitude is everything. At one point I looked up and thought how beautiful it was to see it coming down under the stadium lights. It was as if God was pouring holy water all over us... blessing each one of us with his gift of the present.