I expected a nervous dread this morning. Yet here I sit in my office at work an hour early, bouncing in my chair, (no, it’s not just because of the tall latte I slurped down,) feeling something like JOY. Really? Joy, in the last dying gasps of the most soul crushing election season ever? Really, joy?
Joy surprises and shocks and delights. It’s like a tall latte with a double shot of God swirled in. That’s why it’s called joy- instead of your run of the mill happiness.
May I share my story with you?
Our baby boy turned 18 a few weeks ago, so now he’s voting age.
“Whoa, Sam can vote?!” said the 24 year old brother who lives in our basement. “We ought to make it a thing! We should get up early and go vote together!”
Maybe this could be fun. Maybe a little team spirit could turn an election laced with nerves and dis-ease into something exciting and even pleasant. I had high hopes.
And we did it! We left at 6:30, cheered on and pulled out the door by the same eighteen year old who rolls out of bed grumpy at 7:50 so that he can leave for school by eight. The same boy who didn’t even have school today, who could have slept in. He was a little bit excited.
The joy started bubbling when I saw the crowd. These were strangers, with a few exceptions of neighbors and friends I know and love, all standing in line, drinking coffee, talking quietly to each other, shivering in the chilly breezes that we’re not used to yet. (Weren’t we just wearing shorts this weekend?) We all got up early to stand in the cold and wait for a chance to serve our country before going on to live our normal days. It occurred to me that this was beautiful (though I had no idea of the beauty to come) so I snapped a quick shot just to remember it. I let Traveling Baby Jesus line up too, just to remind me that no matter what happens, we have more access to God than we can handle, right at our fingertips. We’ll vote, our country will choose, and then we’ll go right back to doing life: loving and serving and living with each other the best we can, and asking for God’s help.
“Since it’s your first vote, we have to take a picture!” I said to Sam, and instantly the strangers around us started smiling and holding out their arms, offering to take the photo. “Congratulations!” someone called out. “I remember my first vote,” someone else said. We laughed and talked to each other. It’s pretty chilly today, and What time is it? and Glad the sun is shining, and I hope they have stickers.
And then we voted. (But it’s not over yet.)
Todd and I met back outside and put our stickers on and waited for Sam to finish. He was taking his time, reading every word on the ballot.
And then we saw this.
A man with a walker was trying to make it up the stairs. He had come alone, I think. He carefully lifted his walker sideways on the first stair, and immediately the cloud of witnesses surrounded him. Here, let me help you. I’ll hold it for you. You can lean on me if you need to. A man in a cap stood right next to him, shoulder to shoulder. “I’ll be your blocker. If you start to fall, I’ll catch you.”
Another man stood next to him. “And I’ll stand by you,” he said. “We’ll be your wall.”
That’s when joy, joy, joy, spilled over the stairs onto the grass, sloshing against anyone in its path.
“I had to take y’all’s picture,” I said to the crowd. “That was too beautiful for words.”
They laughed and then smiled at me and each other.
“And here I am on the phone,” said the lady in the green coat. “I almost missed the whole thing!”
We chatted as Sam joined us.
“Was this your first vote?” the green coat lady asked Sam.
“Well that’s pretty special. Why don’t you let me take y’all’s picture? I’d be happy to.”
So we put on our stickers and posed.
Ben had to run on to class, but Todd and Sam and I stood there a little longer, savoring the joy of this glorious day.