I was blessed this morning by the light through the blinds, blessed by the image of smoke wafting up from my next-door neighbor’s barbecue. I was blessed by the sight of people milling through the gas station store, the slow walk of men and women across the tile: Sunday morning, the sleepiness of a day meant for rest.
I was blessed this past week beyond reason. Thinking back on the week—yes, it was hectic, as though I didn’t stop moving. One evening was given up to Bible study at a church I’d never been to, another evening brought a diner dinner with a friend—“oysters on the half shell” marked for a price that seemed cheap. Yet another night brought sharing work with a group of fellow writers, and sharing our thoughts, ideas, opinions, suggestions. Friday at 8 brought a movie, darkness, and candlelight, “Arrival,” with Amy Adams learning how to communicate with aliens. Somehow, it was moving. Then finally, on Saturday: music. Beethoven, Schumann, a choral piece sung so beautifully in German. Fingers on a piano made crescendos across the black and white keys, the push of the pedal morphing notes into echoes which seemed heavenly. I couldn’t take my eyes, or ears, out of the moment.
. . . A hectic week melded by moments. Melded by small beauties.
As I’m writing, I am touched by the smoothness of coffee over the edge of the cup. The tip of the cup signals some image in my brain: working in the kitchen, 8 hours a day. Driving home. The couch, resting. And through each day, within the hours: the little prayers I sent heavenward—or inward, or around me. (Wherever God was, I didn’t dare to know. But I wanted to draw close to him.) I trust that: in living the moments, I was also living with God. I hope that sometime later, in years or just months, the timeline of my memory will record this past week as one defined by the practice of the presence of God. (See: Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence...).
Faith is a way of seeing. A manner of living that is utterly defined by hope, a turning of my heart.
It is so, so easy to turn away. To just forget him.
I was asked this past week by a friend, “What do you believe is your mission?”
“I’ve never used that word,” I said. I paused. “I’d call it a. . . calling.”
That thing which I am driven to like a force, something within me as obvious as the sky is above me and the earth is still solid under my feet.
“To see and record beauty,” I said. “To write beauty.”
I should have then asked myself, Maggie, what is taking you away from that?
. . . distractions? (what are they?) . . . anxieties? (do you acknowledge them?) . . . worries? (dare you label them as such?)
Sometimes the days collect. After so many hours and a pile-up of insomniatic nights, the tension in my shoulders mounts to a too-real tightness. Stress—the accumulation of not-giving-things-up-to-God.
I should give beauties back to him.
I should say to God, “I saw you today, in the blow of the wind through the crepe myrtle, the push of the pavement into the distance.” “I saw your hand upon that gentleman who sat in his walker, at the corner, waiting for the bus, or just waiting.” “I saw you in the kindness of others.” “I saw you in the man who served my burger.” “I saw you in the rise of the hill, felt your love as my feet walked upon it and my legs tired, but kept running.”
“And in the movement of the music, the call of the piano and the answer of a flute, the response of the cellos and bass and violins, the interjection of the trumpets.”
Beauty is here. Grace is here. If we listen for it. Look for it.
I want to finish with a poem I found in a small collection called The Sketch, the Ship, and the Afternoon: Ten Years at the Summer Palace. I received this book while working with other writers in Howth, Ireland. The Sketch, the Ship... is entirely Irish poems.
by Pamela Greene
It is so right that you should play Chopin / at this time of evening, / the shadows long across the grass, / buttercups beginning to close their petals / against the night. // The music fills the house and spills out into the garden, / it is the play of light in water, / the arabesque of swallows, / and each note played / leaves a soft indentation in my memory. // When the last notes fade into silence / it is not just the absence of music, / it is you at your piano, / your face rapt, / Chopin alive in your fingers.
be blessed, live fully, love deeply.