I went to bed late last night after a long weekend with high school students. You would think that I would go to bed early after such a weekend, but when I get into the late-to-bed habit, its hard to break. So I was on my way to bed, but then Hoarders: Buried Alive came on TLC and I was equal parts appalled and enthralled and only planned to watch until the commercial and ended up watching til the end while promising to throw away every. single. item. in my garage that does not sell on Saturday.

I didn’t have a post planned for today because being gone all weekend with over 150 teenagers sucks every living, loving, inspiring cell out of my body and I’m left only with enough attention for mind-numbing television and a couple of Oreos. So I had nothing to say, and I went to bed but then 30 minutes later the dog threw up and the next thing I knew I was outside in my jammies hosing out the dog crate in the pouring down rain at dark-forty-five and I thought to myself that maybe I was due for writing a post that wasn’t all that living or loving or inspiring but just had some of life where it sits right now.

Here is a photo a student took during lunch on Saturday after she made me hand over my camera so she could capture us. So he wrapped his arms around me between bites of camp food on plates partitioned up and we posed for her shot compliantly and it wasn’t until later when I dumped all 200 photos onto my laptop that I realized how thankful I was to her for doing it. I still get a little fluttery in the head when he does that and maybe even a little cheek-flushed. I wasn’t crazy about our wedding photos which is one reason why I think I so love taking photos of brides – I want to give them the gift that I missed out on. And so that is why I think this photo makes me happy and brings tears a little. There are so few of us together.

I am one of those weird people who liked high school, and these girls remind me why. Because it was fun. Because you could act like a fool with your girlfriends and laugh until you couldn’t breathe. Because you would think to bring an old prom dress on a retreat just so you could prance around in your red sequence and knee high socks for no reason except that you can. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t relive those days for any amount of food or money, but I’m happy to hang out with our students and watch them live theirs. And maybe even sometimes have a little breathless laughter right along with them.

While cleaning out the closets in preparation for the yard sale, my son found a small box with this stuff in it. They used to be mine, those red-headed sisters with the green outfits on, that white-haired teacher sitting in the desk, that small doll with the big head in the background, a blonde Dora before her time. I know I should get rid of them, but I can’t. Don’t say it.

31 Days starts this week and it comes at a good time for me. For the month of October, I’ll be posting everyday, something about grace. I need graciousness these days. I need to remember gentle and compassion and patience and love. I need to hold onto those things, especially this week in the midst of a new and more intimate awareness of suffering and life-fighting and fear in the lives of some of those most dear. It really is all grace, each breath.

Because of 31 Days of Grace in October, tomorrow will be the last Tuesdays Unwrapped for a while, so I look forward to having you here in the morning with your stories and photos and glimpses of gifts in the midst of your everyday ordinary. And thank you for listening to me share mine.