Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Monday, December 29, 2014

You Just Never Know What a Day Will Bring

The uncommonly wise big grandma used to always tell me that.

As I look back on this past year, I am learning what it is to grasp her words more than I once did. The unexpected seemed to reign, dominate, obliterate in 2014, taking me more by surprise than I ever remember it doing before.

There are so many dear families that come to mind - ones who have suffered, are continuing to suffer dearly. The price they have paid for the existence we all share in this fallen realm is precious. Their cumbersome burdens are a heavy weight to bear. Their lives will never be quite the same as they were in The Blessed Before. For after a heart breaks it mends differently than it once was - with cracks and crevices and shatter lines pieced back together and patched up holes still prone to leaking at the gentlest nudge of remembrance. 

I'm sorry Mr. and Mrs...your son has ended his life...your daughter has a brain tumor...the cancer has spread...your young adult daughter has publicly denounced you...your parents have publicly slandered you...your siblings have publicly spoken out against you...your wife died in a tragic automobile accident...your baby's heart is no longer beating...your daughter died in a tragic automobile accident...

They, us, we all never knew what an ordinary day would bring in the very moment it would irrevocably turn extraordinary.

The questions inevitably arise, The Big Ones We Don't Have Satisfying Answers To and we wonder and we cry out and we raise our voices to the heavens and we ask why, why, why, why? 

The night seasons of the soul find a home, in us. 

As we mourn with friends and loved ones, as our hearts ache with acquaintances, as we shed tears for people we only know of but have not met personally, I am again and again reminded of big grandma's wealth of wisdom. 

She may not know why, but she knows how.

How to live each day to the fullest. 

How to prioritize beloved people above all else on this earth. 

How to slow down and take the time for a kitchen table conversation, a hand written letter, a note of thanks, a phone call to say, "I'm thinking of you," a hot cup of tea, an affirming word right when it's needed most, a humorous memory, a sage piece of advice, a game with a great grandchild she wouldn't dream of beating in a challenge of any kind. 

She knows how to always be certain another feels welcome, valued, loved, accepted, how to overlook a fault, even a grievous one, how to find the good and decent and desirable and esteem worthy in every single person she comes across. 

She knows how to make a fuss over each homemade token of kindness offered by the hands of a child, how to be certain you are always, every time, glad you shared portions of your time with her because she showed you the kind of person, in real life flesh and blood warmth and generosity of spirit and nurturing benevolence, you aspire to be.

She understands the precarious nature of our fragile, fleeing, temporary time on this earth and she demonstrates how to, moment by moment, soak in a simple pleasure like none I have ever known. 

She may not have much in a material sense, but she is rich with resources that reside well beyond the reaches of monetary gain. 

You can't help but love her. No one can. She teaches you how to love. And when you strip life down to its purest essence, is there anything that means more? 

I think in this world that can sometimes seem so dark, big grandma is onto something so light. 

Maybe it's all we can do to cling to it. 

Big grandma reading a blog book on Thanksgiving Day. 

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