Gift of Early Morning Hours
We woke with intentions of making and serving breakfast at a local church. Folks living in need would arrive for a healthy meal and some warmth before the cold air accompanied them outside. Upon arrival, we learned of a miscommunication with age limits. Our youngest was unable to stay due to child protection policies and clearance guidelines. Understanding the circumstances and avoiding an awkward moment for others, my husband and oldest son stayed to help while our young teenage son and I ventured back into the city streets for a slippery ride home during a snow storm.
There was disappointment yet a recognition that early morning hours can be a gift. Still dark, we got the fire crackling, turned on a few lamps, opened the windows to watch the white flakes cover the trees, lamppost, and roads. Eventually even the grass disappeared and a gentle silence and calm filled the air, interrupted occasionally by the scraping of snowplows against the rough macadam streets. As the darkness gave way to light, even a few squirrels scurried about the trees, entertaining as they went about their mission of finding food and shelter (hopefully not in our attic).
Life’s Delicate Dance
Life can be a delicate dance of honesty, gratitude, and challenges. As I gather with friends, talk with family, and share with women in various settings, I’m consistently awestruck by the power of our stories and experiences. Truth be told, we all hold many life stories we would have written much differently. You know what I mean. The friendship that dissolved. The financial security that plummeted. The breakdown in a marriage. The lost job. The death of a loved one. The house sale that fell through. The difficult results of lab work, an important exam, or an election. Confusion and disappointment soar. Sorrow, grief, and even anger overwhelm. If only we could have written the story and outcome differently. If only…
Yet, we also have life stories and experiences we embrace wholeheartedly. It’s true. Every once in a while, one has surprising fortune arrive or luck of the draw or hard work pay off far beyond one’s imagination. Most of the time, our joy and delights come in simple pleasures, moments of gratitude, a special memory with a loved one, recognition of a filled heart, and reminders of how quickly life can change.
Being present in each moment weaves all of these spaces together. Author, Bekah Jane Pogue writes, “Every pain, relationship, and detour is an invitation to see God’s genuine heart in the middle of it.” While the world loves the happy-go-lucky optimist, there is no need to pretend the brokenness and disappointment of our lives don’t exist. Leaning into this genuine space provides truth and healing. It welcomes others to live and speak truth with their reality. Sometimes these moments help us redefine our purpose and strengthen our presence.
Hope in Unexpected Spaces
I’m sure you can agree this is not a new reflection. But it has certainly taken significantly new meaning for me. After several years of grappling with God and the awfulness of several events in our lives, I approached this season of joy and excitement with uncertainty yet a commitment for seeking and finding slices of hope around me. Without expectations, an overwhelming peace began settling within me – in the most unlikely of ways and experiences.
Hope came in unexpected spaces.
An unexpected but gracious hope calmed and surrounded those of us who gathered to celebrate the life of a friend whose life ended way too early.
This calming hope became an invitation for courage to overcome some fears and renew energies for sharing gifts tucked aside.
Renewed hope whispered its way into our lives through kind notes and blessed conversations.
And hope quietly arrived on a this early morning when a change of plans and the beauty of a snow storm providing a space for being present, embracing the moment, and being filled with gratitude.
As 2016 comes to a close (thank you, God!), may you journey with hope as you delicately dance with honesty, gratitude, challenges… and whatever changes come your way.