This month, in our Reclaim the Sass Challenge, our theme has been “All That Glitters.” A few days into the challenge, my mom got sick. Hospital kind of sick.
Obviously, that doesn’t glitter.
The week before, my son was in the same hospital.
That didn’t glitter, either.
But here I sit at my coffee shop, listening to Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and choking out some words for Beautiful You about my current life situation, how that makes me think of you, and what story I’m going to choose to believe about all of it.
A couple of things:
First, my mom is a rock, a lion among lions. So, even though you know lions get sick, it’s still kind of stunning.
Second, if you want beauty and joy in your life, you’re gonna have to INSIST on it. Cause, girlfriend, there is ALWAYS something going on to convince you otherwise.
There is beauty in the contrasts of life. In fact, there is a handshaking relationship between adversity and grace.
Poet Kahlil Gibran writes,
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
I love how he says that our pain is equal in wonder to our joy if we can keep our heart in wonderment at the daily miracles of life. That has been so very true for me.
Last night I returned from the hospital and had supper with Mr. Delicious and the last of our six boys. We had grilled cheese and soup.
Simple. Elegant. Enough.
Then we changed clothes and headed over to the middle school for our son’s Holiday Band Concert. I was a chaperone and sat there as the young people cavorted and flirted with one another as they waited for their turn to take the stage.
Again, simple. Joyful. Poignant.
This was my LAST middle school holiday concert. I’ve been going to them for nine years. I was very aware of that entire little arc in my life as the kids played their little hearts out.
Completion. Memories. Gratitude.
Afterwards, our little group went out for a scoop of ice cream. Other band families had already gathered there and I relished in the homey rituals of small towns everywhere
Community. Warmth. Peace.
I also thought about our freedoms and sent a prayer for those who have dedicated their lives to keeping the peace for my beautiful people.
Bravery. Principled. Constancy.
And that made me think about all the mothers everywhere who don’t have the same security as I do. And so I said a prayer for them as well
Compassion. Reverence. Deep appreciation.
Interspersed with all these small reflections was the laughter of my son and his friends. Mr. Delicious looked especially fine is his long black coat. I said prayers for him too, because, like my mother, I have always been the “strong one,” and I am so grateful that I have a man in my life who matches me in strength.
Love. Trust. Reliance.
It’s not always an easy dynamic, but we are making our way.
In fact, this Christmas Eve will be our fifth wedding anniversary. This morning, I asked him if he thought five years of marriage is the same thing as five years of sobriety. (It is said that anybody who makes it to five years of continuous sobriety has a 95% chance of surviving alcoholism.)
But he intentionally misunderstood me and says, “Do you mean that marriage is like sobriety in that you intentionally deny yourself all the things you want most?”
“Or, do you mean that, for every 100 days of marriage, you’ll be okay with 95 of them, but the other five you’re gonna want to run like hell the other way?”
We decided to go with that comparison.
Today is one of the 95 good days. Today, I don’t want to run like hell the other way.
From any of it.
In good times.
Through all of it, the difficulties define the grace, the dark reveals the light.
Merry Christmas, dearest Beautiful You.
From my heart to yours.
photo: Geraint Rowland