Had I not looked up at just that moment, I’d have missed it. I was balancing a full cup of latte, keys, and a shoulder bag moving from car to office, and just at the right moment, I glanced skyward, and saw it. A gorgeous and giant heron, moving so swiftly and gracefully across the morning sky of a bustling city. It looked not of this world–wild and free and completely separate from the traffic and noise and pace below it. It was enough to stop me in my tracks, a smile curving across my face. It was lovely, this bird.
I’m moving slow this week. Not at all fast enough for what my calendar tells me must be done, attended to or managed. It’s been busy. Too busy. And life has felt heavy. And even though that busyness is the result of a really full life, and that heaviness the result of people I care about a great deal, it’s also exhausting. And I miss things when life gets like this. Important things, like giant herons floating across the sky.
It’s no secret the world we live in, and especially these (theoretically) United States are in the midst of angry, chaotic, bizarre times. People are angry. People need jobs. People seek equality. People want to feel safe. People fear the future on myriad fronts. We’re collectively afraid. Isolated. Distrustful. All of this sometimes keeps me awake at night, because I can’t see a way out. I mean, short of sending the entire continental USA to their rooms for a nap, and then forcing everyone to have milk and cookies and a lesson about sharing and using our words, I just can’t see past our current state of affairs. Even as I believe there has to be a better way. Even as I believe we were made for more than this. Even as I believe that this not what God called any of us to be. Even as I hope–fiercely and determinedly–for something new and good on the other side of this present reality.
And I think what eats at me most these days is that it’s hard to see the sacred–we’re missing the holy moments. The glimpses of grace. The thin places of our existence that tell us there is something more…something more whole…something merciful in this life.
We’re so caught up in the pain and chaos and division and fear that we’re missing the great herons dashing across the sky. We’re missing the giggles of our children. We’re missing taking the time to tell the one(s) we love that we do, in fact, love them. We’re missing the sacredness of making love to the one we love most…of cooking a meal with friends and family, slowly, with conversation as the best spice and laughter as the most holy of seasonings…of waking up early and padding out to the back porch, coffee in hand, to watch the world come awake again. And we’re missing the real pain of each other’s hearts, the real moments we could connect in, the real issues that plague us as a nation and world, because we’re too busy fighting.
Let me be clear: I know that there are things worth fighting for these days; I know we all have opinions, and we hold them close; I know that when you’re hungry it’s hard to notice the joy of moonrise and the miracle of sunrise. I. Know. I get it. It’s a brutal world, even as it holds such complete beauty. And in the midst of it all, lives are shattered, destroyed, torn apart, every day. I. Know. And it breaks my heart over and over and over again.
On Saturday night I watched my daughter serve communion to two dear friends that she calls brothers. Chosen siblings in this life she has been handed. Between the three of them there has been more heartache, more pain, than any child should ever have to face. But oh! how they love each other. How they make each other smile. How they care for each other’s hearts. And as I watched my child offer to them what she knows as an expression of unconditional love and abundant grace, all I could think is, “This. This is life. This is love. This is grace.”
This was hope, that moment, and I remembered again what it means to really live…to know that past all that threatens to undo us is the goodness of what it means to really love another, to really hold on to each other when everything seems to be falling apart, to really know the holiness of this life.
That which is holy–no matter how you define holy or what faith tradition you come from–is, I believe, what saves us. That which is holy, and cannot be planned for, contained, measured or quantified…this is what makes the brutal worth fighting through to the beauty.
That which is holy…this is what triumphs over everything else. And, if we’ll let it, can lead us into hope.