Quotidien Wonders

“The wonders of God are everywhere, and most people miss ’em.”  That was the way a man named Sahr greeted me at Reagan National Airport one time, when we were seated near each other in the terminal.  And I agreed with him, and we were off and running in a conversation that has stayed with me.

That was a wise and true statement.  My mind is occupied these days with big ideas, long-held dreams coming to fruition, exciting possibilities, new friends, travel… every day a boatload of mental activity and stimulation.

And sometimes in the process of thinking forward, I miss now.  Quiet, good things.  I’m stopping to recount a few.  I could stand to dwell in the present moment for a few minutes.  Here are a few snapshots of the last few days:

  • A few days ago, I was feeling lonely… sad… just down.  I stopped and prayed, rather demanding of God that he send me one of my cool friends… just some sort of encouragement from the ether, that’s all I wanted (demanded).  It can be lonely working on solitary projects all day. And I  wanted someone to show up.  Within a few minutes I heard a noise at my office window. I looked over and there was, on the ledge, a male cardinal staring at me, sort of pecking on the screen. It stayed there a while, 10 seconds or so.  I know the habits of “my” cardinals, the ones who live in my yard.  And they do not usually come visitin’.  Since cardinals are a sign of the Holy Spirit, of God’s presence, I had to deduce that God sent me the A team… himself to cheer me.  It worked.
  • I’ve been studying the book of Esther in the Bible.  She was a cool Jewish woman who saved her people through bravery.  I’ve been meditating on her life.  So yesterday when I was surprised by a stranger in my front yard (literally surprised, for I was listening to a loud lecture on earphones), I was a bit taken aback to find that her name was “Esther.”  I ended up spending an hour and a half with her, and in the end we ended up at her faraway home where she gave me a piece of beautiful Peruvian pottery.  I can’t make sense of everything that happens (or much of it) but it was a wonder.  She’s a wonder, 65-year-old Peruvian Esther.
  • I have a friend, let’s call him “N.”  My Spanish isn’t good enough to know as much of his story as I’d like to know.  And that hurts me… to know that there are things I want to know, should know, about a good man whom I care about, a man from El Salvador who works three jobs here and hasn’t seen his family in years.  I studied Spanish for a while so I could actually hear his story… and yet I got busy, let the lessons lapse, and thus I keep showing up in all our conversations saying the same lame things, “It’s nice to see you,”  “How’s your family?”  “Have you been working alot?”  That’s enough to break my heart… for there is so much to find out about people and so much more to ask and say, and we rarely bother.  Sure it can be because we have a language barrier, but it can also just be a complacency barrier or a trust barrier.  I don’t like it when I accept barriers to communication and love with people, needless ones.  But the point of wonder in the exchange with N was this: no matter how many times we have the same limited conversation, he offers such grace to me, this time simply saying, “veintiocho agosto,” an acknowledgment that my birthday is coming.  He’s a gentle wonder.
  • And this morning I watched my husband as he left the house for a run.  And I thought of an old acquaintance, Ron, who ran by my house about 15 years ago on a beautiful day.  We waved and smiled, and then about three blocks later he dropped dead of a heart attack.  Was I the last person who knew him and greeted him on that sunny day that forever decimated his family?  Maybe.  So I was thinking of the wonder of how most of the time we get to see the people we love again.  When we part, we assume we will.  And mostly we do.  And that is beautiful.  I’m grateful and not taking it for granted that my husband returned to the house, that I got to taste the sweat when I greeted him with a kiss.
  • And finally, I’ve got a kitchen full of ripe tomatoes and a tomato sandwich to look forward to after a few hours of work.
Life is good.

~ by Cary on August 2, 2011.

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