Walking down the street after a fulfilling day of seeing clients I was struck by the blazingly beautiful contrast of the sunlit red and yellow leaves as they shined brightly against the backdrop of a pristine blue sky. The quality of the light at this time of year is so spectacular and this fall it seems like the trees are bursting forth in full Technicolor inspiring me to tap the camera icon on my phone and capture their glow on a daily basis. Lately it’s the little things that touch me and it’s as if what once was ordinary has become extraordinary; I bow in thanks to this not so small miracle.
Simple things like resting on the sofa in the evening watching my daughter explore being a “tween” as she struts her stuff around our sparsely furnished on purpose living room. I revel in her spunky aliveness as she dances and lip syncs to her latest pop song favorites like “Black Magic” or “Can’t Feel My Face” and I wonder when did she turn into this medium-sized person who is fast blossoming into a young lady at just nine years of age? I find myself amazed that she who is allowed only a minuscule amount of screen time knows these songs; when exactly did she learn how to skillfully navigate an iPhone?
It’s all happening so fast that I can hardly catch my breath. It’s clear to me that keeping up with my girl and supporting her through the changes she is navigating requires me to be present regardless of what else may be happening and I am thankful for the way life constantly nudges me into presence; it’s a lot like the way a dog persistently nudges you toward the front door when they want to be taken for a walk.
It’s a gift to watch my daughter as she grows up, discovering herself, testing the waters in many arenas, riding the waves of emotion that range from small bourgeois disappointments like not being able to watch a movie because the internet is down, to gleeful satisfaction as she beats me in a game of Clue for the very first time announcing boldly, “Mrs. White in the Theatre with a bat!” Tiny moments like these stir my heart and I sense the stream of grace that runs through this human existence.
Noticing little things like a reminder to put a sleeping bag into the car for pajama day at school, enthusiastically scribbled by my girl in a finding your voice through your handwriting kind of way that says, “Gonna get ya sleeping bag, yay! Yay! Woop! Woop!” Reading it made me giggle. It’s that simple.
Life is full of little graces and it’s up to us to receive them.
I recognize that there are also more somber flavors of grace like the one that cracked open my heart the other night as I was reading an ode that Mariane, an amazing mentor of mine wrote for her mother who recently passed away. I received the waterfall of love she had for her mother and how they’d spoken almost every day since before her now grown children were born and I felt a rush of tearful love well up inside of me for my own incredible mother. I realized how attached I am to her and how I do not feel quite ready to meet the tsunami wave of her death that one day will come; I am thankful that this wave is nowhere in sight and that she is healthy and thriving.
I feel a resounding gratitude for being able to plant my feet firmly in the soil of emotional sobriety and for the gift of living in a community where we prioritize the willingness to show up and lean into the hard stuff even when it hurts and when it means we don’t get to indulge in our desires.
I have noticed that there is a scoop you up from underneath blustery kind of grace, a gust that gently blows us into the uncomfortable places like ending a relationship, leaving a job, cutting ties with a group or putting a pet down so they are out of their misery; it seems like the key is to feel thankful for the awkward places too, for the tight spots that you can barely squeeze through like that pair of jeans you wore ten years ago that you can still fit into, but once you button them you have trouble breathing and you might feel like a bit like a walking sausage if you left the house in them. These spots are so tight that it can actually be hard to breathe and breathe we must. What other choice do we have?
A radical choice is to feel thankful for it all.
I am thankful for the magic of motherhood, for the gift of my own mother who though she does not claim to understand me totally has my back, for the much needed rainy nights and the sweet fresh air in the mornings, for the brilliance of the full moon, for all those who serve food in soup kitchens on Thanksgiving Day, for the wisdom of my mentor, for everyone I love and serve, for the unbelievably awkward moments that make us want to crawl out of our skin, for the bitter-sweetness of letting go of a love not meant to be, for the silent tenderness of the heart after a good cry, for the dances that dance us and the songs that sing us, for the infinite love that courses through my veins and so much more; most of all I am thankful for the simple grace of being alive and well in this infinitely beautiful moment.