I'm moving forward with this idea and giving it one more adjustment - taking ideas, thoughts and musings from my comments and turning this blog into an ongoing discussion. The discussions have been my favorite part of all the book events I've had this fall, so the idea of incorporating this into my blog is something that is very exciting to me. Let's see where the wind takes us, let's share our thoughts on whatever happens to come up here...
The lovely Lynne was the first person to leave a comment on my last entry, and what she wrote went directly to the core of what I was trying to express:
"If gratitude shouts, then grace whispers..."
So perfect, so true, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about all the ways grace makes itself known in my life in the quietest of ways. In Ordinary Sparkling Moments, one of the experiences I wrote about was an evening of doing the dishes when, out of the blue, I was given a glimpse of how divinely perfect my life was at that exact moment:
"...I looked over at [my husband] and suddenly felt a gentle wave of contentment melt into me like a drop of honey in hot tea. It was as if there was a force in the world that wanted to make sure I recognized how precious that moment was, and in that strangely poetic instance, I saw it with perfect clarity: this is it. This is the life we have worked so hard to create."
This piece was about grace, about one of those all too brief flashes of pure contentment that allows every ounce of stress, worry, angst and sadness to dissolve completely. These moments don't happen when we are shouting from the rooftops or conquering some great goal - those experiences offer a different kind of gratification. They arise in the soft, foggy corners of the forest, where the silhouettes of tiny birds can barely be seen among the tangled branches, spaces where we can sit for hours on end and hear nothing more than tiny drops of water plopping upon fallen leaves. Grace comes when we are quiet; grace comes when we're not paying attention.
I was thinking about this a lot yesterday as I was deep in the task of post-Thanksgiving kitchen clean up. Filling the sink with hot, sudsy water, taking the time to scrub each pot thoroughly, lighting candles on the counter, using up every kitchen towel we have drying, scrubbing, wiping down. Grace loves those mundane, household tasks that occupy my time and attention on a regular basis - washing dishes, doing laundry, making the bed. It is in those moments when my mind is perhaps as free as it can ever be to wander wherever it pleases. These are such ingrained routines that while it looks like I am simply folding t-shirts I'm really imagining journeys to Uganda or trying to work through a complicated issue with a friend. My mind goes everywhere as I take care of our home, and because this is usually done in perfect silence, grace is able to slip in easily, to be still, observe and, yes, whisper many of the answers I am looking for.
Grace is the quiet voice that tells me to say thank you every single day. She comes to me when my husband and I are angry at one another and instructs me to go to him, to hold his hand, to let the past be the past, even if that past occurred just five minutes ago. Grace gives me the gentlest reminders that I don't have to be perfect, that I don't have to solve all the world's problems in one day. She lets me know it's OK to feel sad, to cry, to be still with disappointment. She can also be incredibly blunt, when she advises that the wisest thing I can do in any number of situations is to shut the #&*$ up. That's exactly what she says - quite often I might add - and thankfully, I've learned to follow that advice more often than not. Grace gives me permission to take risks - in love, in friendship, with my work - and also gives me plenty of space to play it safe when my intuition is guiding me in that direction.
Grace knows...she knows all there is to know and I believe that is why she only whispers. To be as wise and centered as she is means she has no need to shout, to make a big fuss, or to make any grand case for or against something. Grace knows I won't always listen, but she doesn't care. She is always available to share her wisdom with me, and in that sense she is perhaps the most benevolent force in my life. She is gentle, she is all-knowing, she whispers. She lets me know, just as the first rays of sunlight peeking through my bedroom curtains let me know a new day has arrived, that every single moment is an opportunity to inch closer to her. She is always showing me the way.