Sometimes, it’s just lovely to be the guest.
Unlike many people in this galaxy, I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about Star Trek. And other than a small book of poetry from high school, I have ever known much about Leonard Nimoy. But I have to say my heart jumped a bit when this Nimoy quote rolled by in my Facebook feed.
The miracle is this:
the more we share, the more we have.
I wholeheartedly believe our riches come from giving, spiritually, emotionally, and in daily life/practical terms. But until now, I’ve never thought of this concept as the Great Miracle. Of course it is!
Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for a profound lesson in grace.
(And thank you, Julie Turner, for yet another beautiful stair quote. What rich lessons your boys are learning.)
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The snow had come, the snow had gone, and in its wake we were left with a bitter cold rain that turned to ice. I mourned the missed opportunity, the very real truth that I’d have to wait another year for the mere chance at snow, another 12 months (or so) before there would even be the thrill of remote possibility. Then I looked out the window to see this guy.
In a flash he reminded me the critters are out there all up in it, doing their very best to find food and stay warm. No doubt the critters are out there wishing and hoping–hoping and wishing–for the blessing of an early Spring.
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Let’s just agree, shall we? Let’s just say right now that if I happen to stretch this snow thing out a bit–say, two posts, or three, or four–let’s just agree you’ll indulge me. You’re a sweet, generous soul, that I already know, and I’m hoping your goodness will translate to a big swath of patience when it comes to the very serious matter of me and snow.
It would be mighty kind of you, that’s what I’m saying. Mighty kind of you to overlook the teensy tiny little fact that snow fell this morning for–erh, 10 minutes? maybe?–and that when it was all said and done there was not even what a rational person could call a dusting on the ground. It would be mighty kind of you look beyond the fact I didn’t touch the stuff, didn’t even get outside in it because I was soaking wet, having nearly missed the Snow Event completely when I (CURSES!) abandoned the dream and stepped into the shower, preparing to report–in cold, cold rain–for JURY DUTY. But God is good, and so there we were, me in a towel, snow in all its white fluffy glory, face to face at the big kitchen window.
It’s such a rarity here, that’s the thing. Located as we are in the middle of the middle of the South, the falling of big fat flakes is such a rarity I am suggesting (whole-heartedly) that the mere possibility of snow is a legitimate cause for community-wide celebration.
Run to the store for bread and milk and kahlua–I won’t judge! Call off school before the first flake ever falls–you won’t hear me complain! Have that We Probably Won’t Have To Work Tomorrow So I’ll Have Another glass of wine–I’m all in!
It was so worth it for the 10 minutes of unbridled joy today’s weather delivered.
It was so worth it for 10 minutes of LOOK! IT’S SNOWING!!!!
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It’s the sentiment that came to me this morning, the thought that woke me and insisted I turn toward the clock to see “4:42.” It was ridiculously early, and for the next 25 minutes I lay there in the quiet dark turning the sentiment over in my mind, watching it tumble amid the troubles sitting on my conscience, tumble like towels in a clothes dryer, a dryer moving in slow motion.
Life is hard.
A friend is staying with us for a while, working a new job that allows her to be closer to her sweet Muzy, a beautiful soul slipping slowly beneath the heavy cloak of dementia. There is great love and tenderness between these two women, mother and daughter, and as I went to bed last night my dear friend kissed her Mom in Atlanta and began the journey back here. It was late–as I said, I was already in bed–and in that difficult late-night dark with snow and freezing rain all around, she began the four-hour drive back. It is too much to bear, I thought. Too much to bear.
Life is hard.
Everywhere I turn, it seems, there is worry great and small: the threat of ISIS, and the beheading of a parade of Christians; the inability of the people of Boston to simply dig out before another great storm socks them in, this time even deeper; my sweet little aging dog, a torn ACL having rendered her back left leg unusable, her right leg then sprained.
Life is hard.
I was cooking a pot of chili on Sunday, a (joyfully) mundane task amid the trouble in the world, when I hit PLAY on Oprah’s Soul Series conversation with Father Richard Rohr. His name was not familiar to me, but I was captivated within three seconds. A Franciscan Priest, yes. But a more human human I don’t believe I have ever encountered. Yes I thought as he spoke. Yes. Yes. Yes. Amid many powerful and relevant points he talked about life’s difficulty, about the reality that we live in this world not in spite of but because of the great challenges. It’s how we learn, he said. It’s how our souls expand. It’s why we are alive.
It is what you do with suffering that matters, he said. You must learn from it. You must transform it. If you don’t, you will transmit it–to your family, your friends, your country.
At 5:02 I turned on the light and got up. I shuffled to the side porch, where I looked out to see Colleen’s car parked safely in our driveway. I made coffee and got back in bed, laptop open and Life is hard still on my mind. Two hours later I met her in the kitchen. My friend was awake, dressed, ready to head out the door to work.
I’m so happy you made it home okay. That drive must have been brutal I said.
It was long she said, pouring her coffee. And then she turned and smiled at me. I want to hear all about this weekend’s wedding she said. Who was there, what did you wear, every detail. I should be home by 6. And then she was off.
Life is hard, I thought, watching her go. And so we move through it, doing the best we can. Sometimes we transform suffering and aren’t even aware because the beautiful lesson is for someone standing by–a friend or loved one or stranger touched in a profound way by our example, a lesson in grace and generosity that makes someone else’s soul expand.
It’s what happened to me this morning. I thank you, dear friend.
*Above is a link to a portion of the show. It is well worth a watch.
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I wasn’t ready for it, I can tell you that up front.
Yes, it was a discussion we’d had many times, and yes, I understood all the reasons it was a good idea. And still the morning my husband said We should go today and I shook my head in agreement my heart wasn’t in it. We’re just looking he said.
And so I got my coat and handed him the keys and said You drive (as if this would make it easier.)
We made our way across town. Then there it was, the first one on our list, Dealer A. Before you could say Technology Package with Bluetooth I was test-driving a brand new SUV, this one smaller, tighter, shinier than the old gal we’d left parked at the front door of the dealership.
It was seductive, with all those features: the back-up camera with warning beepers; the way the side mirrors lit up when a car was approaching; the iPhone possibilities. And then there was the new car smell. (What is it about a new car smell????) Still I wasn’t sold.
I just wasn’t ready.
One more stop he said. While we’re on this side of town.
And just like that the heavenlies delivered to us the one thing we weren’t looking for: a pre-owned black SUV, scant 2000 miles on the odometer, full New Car warranty and the joyful backstory that the previous owner was a Service Woman who, rather than deploy again, retired from the military, moved back to the United States with her husband and two children, and gave up the car.
How could I not say yes?
A week (and several financial negotiations) later we returned to the dealership to take possession of the new car. In our garage before we left I had a great talk with my sweet silver girl, the one I was leaving behind, the one who’d taken good care of me for eight years and more than 140,000 miles. I told her how grateful I was, how she’d get the love and attention of a mechanic who would get her running good as new, the joy she would bring to a new family–a family that would be thrilled to own a car with so much heart, so much soul.
I didn’t think it would happen this fast I said. But the universe seems to think it’s the right thing for both of us.
She seemed to agree, if a bit reluctantly. And so we made our last ride across town together, parked, and then we said goodbye.
She has been a good friend, my silver buddy. How I wish her well.
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It has been two years today since my mother died, a fact that astounds me. We were with her when she passed in the early hours of February 2nd (a beautiful bit of grace for which I am immensely grateful), and after going to bed at 5 a.m., I remember waking a couple of hours later in full awareness that I had to get up, lift my head and walk bravely through the next few days. We knew without even discussing it our first task was the most difficult: developing the list of Mom’s most special friends and calling them personally to let them know the sad news. We wrote down name after name after name and divided it up, my three brothers and I, and still the calls took us all day. It was an inexhaustible list, and it brought us to the first great realization about our mother: She was widely beloved because she had the ability to make each and every person she met feel special–and even more so–special to her.
I’ve thought a lot about this in recent months, such a gift I believe it to be. Mom was a wonderful conversationalist who took a great interest in whatever was going on in your life. Stop by for a quick visit with Posey Rigg and she’d light up a cigarette, ask a question and two hours later you’d still be sitting there telling her your stories. Nothing pleased her more.
But she was not simply a charmer, let me be clear about that. She had no filter, our Mother, and without a second thought she would pose–outright–questions the rest of the world wouldn’t dare ask. She also offered her own (strong) opinions quite freely–an honesty that, in some strange way, actually put you more at ease.
(You never had to wonder what Posey was thinking, that’s for sure.)
Our family’s beloved minister, George Aichel, opened his remembrance at her funeral by saying this:
Eliza Rose Sutton (Posey) Rigg was a woman who said what she thought and meant what she said.
The congregation laughed and I laughed, too, a beautiful, gentle acknowledgement that filled me with pride and love and peace.
So true I thought. So Mom.
There’s been joy every day, that is for sure, joy every single day since I started this latest 30 Days project here on The Daily Grace. We were running full speed toward Christmas at the time and I knew there was goodness ahead. It would be a season filled with grand moments, gorgeous ones worth celebrating. But there surely would be sweet, quiet moments as well, and I felt myself at great risk of running right through them in the rush to get to those more sparkly ones.
No, I thought. I want to notice them all. I want to take note of them all.
And so I started to write about them on The Daily Grace. And now we reach Day 30 and one of the best Joy lessons of them all. It is this:
Sometimes the very best joy is sharing someone else’s.
Right? Do you agree? Did you already know?
I woke up this morning to an email that made my heart rejoice with so much happy I giggled. I giggled! It was from my dearest of friends, Julie Turner, a bright light in this world who spreads joy like a farmer spreads fertilizer.
is what the email said. That’s so Julie, is what I thought. And then I saw what she was referring to. It seems her hero–okay, her ultimate hero if you wanna know the truth of it–had just retweeted her.
Wow oh wow, I thought. And then I clicked on the photo link in the tweet.
That’s so Julie is what I thought again. She recently painted the risers of her stairway with chalkboard paint, and she and her husband and two boys always have something fabulous written there.
Aren’t these chalkboard stairs the best idea?
Isn’t it swell that Lyle responded to her tweet?
Isn’t the lesson so true????
Sometimes the very best joy is sharing someone else’s.
Yes. Yes. Yes!
30 Days of Joy
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I have known this day was coming, yes. I have tried to prepare, to steel my will. And now that the countdown is over, now that “the day” has arrived–I am fretting, pacing, wringing my hands–and I am not the slightest bit ready to bid farewell to Parenthood.
It doesn’t help that I am also a tad bit bitter.
To everything there is a season, yes I know. But this show is far from over. Its story lines and characters (love each and every flawed one) have only grown more compelling with every season. While I am sure tonight’s series finale will wrap things up in brilliant Parenthood style, so much will be left on the table.
When did television with a heart and a soul fall out of fashion? That’s what I want to know.
I will tune in tonight at 10. I will watch, no doubt crying a few tears as I try to figure out how I will ever say goodbye to the Bravermans. I will worry about Zeek, I will rejoice for Sarah, I will pull for Joel and Julia. I will wrap my arms around Amber and I will send silent love letters to every Parenthood character, all beloved, each one who at one time or another reminded me that life can be hard and still be beautiful, that people are flawed and sometimes just need a break, that family trumps, and that love–oh yes love–is what makes it all work, that love is all there is.
How will we ever say goodbye to the Bravermans?
I don’t know. I surely do not know.
It was a pretty Sunday, the Spring kind of pretty you deeply appreciate when the calendar insists it is the middle of January. Church was over and as we’d planned, Tim and I made a mad dash for the parking lot and jumped into his car. He started the engine, then reached across to the back seat and handed me the clothes I’d piled back there earlier that morning.
Here? In the car? I asked. I’m meant to change right here in the car?
He looked at me and shrugged, smiling a little. It’s what athletes do, he said.
(I’m not sure I’m meant for this, is what I thought.)
It all started a few days earlier when, in passing, with hardly a thought, I said something innocent like: I think maybe I could be a hiker, if I knew for sure I’d not encounter a wild animal–you know, a bear or a deadly snake. Well, my husband heard me, and the next thing I know we’re standing in our hiking boots in Harbison State Forest staring down ten wooded trails. My husband is an athlete, you see, the kind who plans life around whatever his training spreadsheet tells him to do. He’s finished dozens of marathons, two iron man competitions and one (I still can’t believe it and I was there) 50-mile ultra marathon–an impressive guy with the self discipline (and commitment to health) it takes to do that kind of thing.
I, on the other hand, am not that person.
Still it was a glorious day, and I’m so happy I made it the four miles we trekked to get to see sight after sight like this.
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