“The great thing is, if one can, to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions in one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.” ~C.S. Lewis
I am a list maker. I make a list of at least 5 things I am grateful for every day. I keep a calendar where I list all commitments and appointments. I make a menu list every week and grocery lists after that. I have a list of things which must get done today, and a list of important matters which need to get addressed ASAP. I have lists of projects I want to do someday and ones I intend to do this month or “for Christmas.”
I once kept a list (read journal) of meals I served for entertaining when we lived in Indonesia which included notes of foods which were favorites or those someone disliked. As you see, some of these are lists for keeping and others which need to get checked off and discarded (replaced by new ones, of course.)
I have learned that lists get changed, rearranged, simplified. I have learned, as C. S. Lewis says so well, that things happen which are not planned and are not on my list.
And I love that God, in His infinite grace and patience with me, has taught me that I don’t know all that I will face and need, and so to practice living with grace as the unexpected, and sometimes unwelcome parts of life occur. That (with the hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” humming in my mind) I am given both the wisdom and courage for the living of this hour, which is precisely, my life.
“God is not a belief to which you give your assent. God becomes a reality whom you know intimately, meet everyday, one whose strength becomes your strength, whose love, your love. Live this life of the presence of God long enough and when someone asks you, “Do you believe there is a God?” you may find yourself answering, “No, I do not believe there is a God. I know there is a God.” ~Ernest Boyer, Jr
I use the lines from Mary Oliver which speak to paying attention, being astonished, and telling about it often. I find it applies to so many things: nature, of course, but also words that I read, objects that I find and touch, people and our conversation, both joys and pain. My recent posts about paying attention with not only our eyes and ears but also our sense of smell sharpened my savoring of these extraordinary peaches! They are a wonder to behold with their brilliant crimson and saffron colors, soft to the touch, and a succulent treat as you taste their sweetness. Even the seeds are so beautiful I can’t throw them away. I have them lined up ready to let my granddaughter help me plant them. When I enjoy a peach for breakfast, how could I not be attentive to the way it is beautiful inside and out?
“Ten times a day, something happens to me lie this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathetic pin and swell. This is the first, the wildest, and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” ~ Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1
“You can have the other words – chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it. ” ~ Mary Oliver, Winter Hours
When I visited one of the garden centers in Houston recently, this sign caught my eye since I had just written the previous post about fragrance. Many of the plants in our back yard garden could be labeled “featuring fragrance.” A plant that is new to me is actually a very old-fashioned one. Sweet almond verbena reaches out to my nose with its sweet smell and a hint of vanilla. It is no surprise to find that this reminds me to pray with each breath, inhaling God’s goodness and peace and letting out all my fretting. Remembering the Biblical references to our prayers as a fragrant incense, I smiled when I read that another name for this plant is Incense Bush. Breathe!
Paying attention is not just for eyes and ears. This week I am aware that being present to the fragrance in my garden brings a sharpened awareness of beauty and story. Joe brought these gardenias inside this morning. How lovely they are, shining with dew. But their sweet smell reached me before anything else. I breathe deeply and say “thank you”, remembering all the way back to those that bloomed by our front porch when I was a little girl.