I awaken into the new day. Already my mind is considering all that has been. Is contending with all I might do or be needed to do. Do I pause ... to ponder The ordered way land, sea and sky meet, as the the sun peers through the trees the clouds form and fold the light sparkles on the lake soft ripples hint of a soft breeze. That my lungs fill with fresh air perfectly composed to supply blood, uniquely equipped to carry cells, satisfied and content. That my legs lift and support me, step one foot to the other with balance on sturdy ground that promises to carry me into the day. Do I consider this ... the ordinary? that the day will take shape as it does and always has. that intake of air will refresh again and again. that gravity will have its way as it has this day and every day. This ordinary. This gift. This miracle. Not guaranteed Not promised Not deserved And yet, why? why do I overlook it? why do I suppose it? why do I rush past it? Why do I forget to give thanks? In the anxious of always, we've been given the ordinary to make life out of.
As one who makes mistakes, but tries desperately not to, I confess, I love hearing that God loves the imperfect. As one who must regularly confess the miscue, the misdeed, the missed mark, I delight in the notion that God loves the imperfect. As one who, just yesterday, said a quick yes, when I should have said a considered no. I am grateful that God loves the imperfect. As one who just typed imprefect rather than imperfect, I am glad that God has a sense of humor and still loves the imperfect. As one who pays too much attention to what others think, in hopes they'll approve, I sigh deeply to think that God loves the imperfect. As one whose tendency is to find fault with oneself and too often with the other, I am humbled to know that God loves the imperfect. As one who regularly revisits what I should have said, while others are speaking and I should be listening, I am bolstered to know that God loves the imperfect. As one who is easily distracted and often a million miles away from where my feet are, I feel the universe gather me back to the God who loves the imperfect. As one who regularly tries too hard to earn her own approval, I inch my way into the pool of grace and hear again that God loves the imperfect. The past is the past, God says, as God's love of the imperfect firms the footing of those whom God is perfecting. On the sixth say, God created humankind, you and me and all of thee, and God said we were very good. We were not yet perfect. God loves. God loved then. And still, God loves the imperfect. Thank God.
Recently, I caught myself smiling, albeit lamenting the message on the window sticker of the car in front of me. It read:
Whether meant to be political, personal or simply amusing, it struck a cord. It certainly has become popular, and honestly, understandably so, to berate the year that’s nearly complete, what with its plethora of hardship; death, destruction, division, sickness, sacrifice and sadness have all claimed the headlines. And that’s just scraping the surface.
It’s been a year, hasn’t it.
As I sit at the keyboard with hopes of penning this year’s Christmas letter, I feel a bit stymied. Gonna be hard to come up with “good things” to share this year. Even though the truly bad or worse has not befallen us, and by us I mean me, personally, the year wears a dimness and pallor that tinsel and sparkling lights have difficulty brightening.
Thus, I am particularly glad for a practice I began at Thanksgiving time, inspired by friends who introduced me to the prayer practice known as “I make an act of Thanksgiving.” I begin by first penning THANKS in the middle of my prayer card and then to pencil over and around it the many things for which I am thankful. Soon, what began as a daily expression of gratitude becomes an illegible cloud of thanks. A scribbled act of Thanksgiving.
And the funny thing was, once I could no longer read what I was writing, I wrote with more abandon: lists, phrases, descriptions… Who cares about penmanship and spelling? Repeats? why not? Whatever thoughts bubbled up got recorded, dashed here, dashed there, written one upon another, as wordy as I wanted. With no one else reading for clarity, completeness, depth or heaven-forbid, handwriting, I’m free to draft dreamily.
And this felt like prayer; not the kind offered to be seen or heard or deciphered by another, but rather the sort lifted without reservation, neither tested for correctness nor edited for proper grammar. More babble, less banter. More honest, less honorary. More admission, less admirable. More Publican, less Pharisee.
Oh, I see you there, trying to decipher what you can. Never you mind. It’s glad tidings all, with pets, of course, figuring prominently and loved ones a-plenty.
In making this act of thanksgiving I came to realize that 2020, in spite of itself, held many, many things for which I was deeply grateful. Though I can’t recite them all or even read them back to you, the evidence is there in the cloud. At first a legible light grey, it grew messy, darkening to shades of charcoal and ominous black. Were it a weather cloud, it would surely portend a storm. But on paper it has instead etched gratitude, happily rendering my penned THANKS enticingly illegible. To the human eye.
But Divine Sensibility is an audience that happens in real time. One by one. Toss…catch. Toss…catch. No addition or subtraction, no multiplication or division, no calculation at all. Yet, a relationship is fashioned which leaves no trace to the human eye. The human heart knows better.
Yes, as a sputtering 2020 forges ahead toward its welcome conclusion, I, instead of screwed, scammed or squashed actually feel supported. Something bids me to tarry here a while in what I might learn from this eventful year, given its unique perspective, challenging reflection and perpetually quaking scenery and tone.
Funny how, when we invite light to shine into the deepest darkness, it shows us what we would have never seen in the bright light of day.
For this, I make an act of Thanksgiving.