There is a sweet little drawing of a smiling face scribbled on the wall next to my bed. The artist is my youngest child when she was about three years old. At the time I calmly told her that walls are not for drawing, and then complimented her on her artwork. I left her original graffiti there on my wall because it is beautiful, and because it reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned since being a new mother of one child, to a seasoned mother of five children--a span of 19 years between the oldest and youngest.
Then there was the box with the electric-yellow knit poncho and, holy of holies, the Monkees album I had longed for FOREVER; "More of the Monkees." There they were, Michael, Peter, Davy and Micky--all smiling down at me from preteen heaven. My future husband and his best-men at our never-to-be wedding. Stupid pollution.
We often think the meaningful stuff of life will happen for us in big ’Ah-Ha’ moments when we suddenly see what our purpose is, discover our passion or perceive why we are here so we can get down to the business of living our truest life. But what if because we are looking for what we assume it will look like, we are missing that it is already here, right in front of us?
Today, as I sat in my idling car at a red light on one of the coldest days in Minnesota history, I suddenly remembered a sunny summer evening sitting on the grass outside an elementary school down the street from our home. A school aptly named “Golden Years.” I was watching my youngest daughter wobble around on her little bicycle that had just recently metamorphosed from four wheels to two. She had begged me to take her to the park so she could practice riding on what she called the ‘pie’ court. She was referring to the tattered basketball court at the base of the sloping hill where I sat watching her ride; tanned legs pumping, brown braids flapping.
Round and round she circled the rectangle, carefully cutting corners and bumping over cracks in the tar where tenacious weeds found purchase and grew stubby and thick under the regular trampling of feet. As I watched her ride I began to wonder why she calls this the ‘pie’ court. It was obviously not round . . . I called out to her as she cycled by me; “Why do you call this the ‘pie’ court?” On her next pass she yelled to me,
“It’s because there is a pie in the middle!”
I looked, but I couldn’t see any circles anywhere on the court. “Where?” I shouted as she whizzed by again. This time she answered me well after she had passed by and I heard her words faintly trailing off, “It’s in the shape of the weeds!”
I looked again, this time really trying to see what she saw and suddenly, there it was. Not the pie I assumed I’d see–not the round shape with a big triangle slice cut out. No, the weeds growing in the cracks of the basketball court formed an almost perfect symbol for pi. Not apple pie, but mathematical pi! I was delighted to see it. My daughter was like a magician making something appear before my very eyes that wasn’t there a moment before (something children often do).
I hadn’t thought about that memory since that day a few years before and it made me feel a little sad. I realized there are so many details of my life that I will forget that are so simply beautiful.
I suddenly longed to remember all the small details that have made up this life of mine. I wondered, what if NOW is always the moment we were born for? What if every NOW contains the potential of living out our purpose, our passion, our reason for being? What if we looked at it that way, that we were born for this very moment in time, all the time? (Yes, even these moments in idling cars, waiting for lights to change.) I wonder, would we finally see the vast infinity of pi (even in the weeds) if we stopped looking so hard for that big slice of apple pie? I wonder.
Divinity in the Everyday
Two children, bright and beautiful, suddenly, separately and unexpectedly passed away this week in neighboring communities. One a sweet little 8-year-old boy with the face of a freckled angel, the other a shining, vibrant young girl of 14. Both smiling from pictures framed by a journalist’s galley of words attempting to explain this tragic loss to stunned readers. Many, like me, are strangers to their grieving families but that does not matter–children should not die, and we are all connected in our collective grief.
. . . as the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.
Many in the two communities in which the children lived hung balloons up and down their streets in school colors, one community filled with orange balloons and the other green in a tender display of shared sorrow in support for the grieving families and in celebration of these precious lives.
At times like these we often want to hold those families close and tell them we grieve with them, but we feel helpless to offer comfort for such an unfathomable loss. So, people hung balloons hoping to send these families the message that they are not alone, that they are held in the hearts and prayers of many who may not know them but who grieve with them.
Where I live, these two communities border each other. Today as I was driving down the road I saw this collective compassion overlapping in a very visual way.
Where the two grieving communities crossed paths, two bunches 0f the colored balloons, four green, four orange were entwined on a shared tether.
It was such a powerful display of who we are when we are so consciously connected to our own hearts and therefore to the hearts of others. A signpost marking a moment when we recognized our oneness–when a stranger’s grief became our grief. An interconnection that felt so real and fragile and tender and sad and beautiful all wrapped up in the image of those balloons for Carly and Quinn, tangled up together in the bright sunshine, swaying gently in the cold winter wind.
With my deepest heartfelt love and compassion to their families.
Divinity in the Everyday
So what happens when we realize what we thought we were giving out of love, we were really giving in exchange for love? What can we do when we feel resentment or bitterness welling up over something we’ve given in exchange for less than what we expected?
Well, that’s the amazing thing about gifts of love–we can retroactively transform those past transactions into gifts by simply forgiving any perceived debt! We can just burn the invoice, tear up the bill, erase it from the ledger in our heart. The alchemy of this transformation is pure magic, and you and I, we are all magicians at heart.
"I close my eyes as my daughter leans in to concentrate on making the stroke of eyeliner she is applying to my lid straight and clean. I feel the warm puff of her breath on my cheek each time she exhales. This beautiful, suspended moment is enough. I am so very, very happy."
After listening to the shepherds tell of their experience with the angels in the fields, it is said in Luke 2: 19: that…
Many years ago, during my darkest hour, I held a small grain of hope that there would be days like today. A still, clear, quiet, sun-dappled morning--children sleeping in upstairs rooms, an old dog curled at my feet. A populated solitude. Alone but not lonely. This is a day extraordinary in its utter ordinariness. I had faith and I am here and I am grateful.
At the time, I had been trying unsuccessfully for about six years to have a baby, so I asked him; “When will my baby be born?” After a moment, he shook his head, looked a bit bewildered and said; “Well, it’s not for me to question the information I’m getting, but I’m being told your baby will be born in January.” I said, “Really? January? As in two months from now?” He looked as perplexed as I felt and he nodded and said; “Yes. I’ve checked it several times. Yes, in two months from now.” Clearly, I was not seven months pregnant. We both would have noticed that!