Sometimes it seems I have to dig with both hands through the gray clouds of December looking for a ray of sunshine, like searching for a precious ring in a sand dune. And other times all I have to do is turn in another direction. In the last few days, I have seen little bursts of sunshine peaking bravely through those clouds. Here are a few of them:
♥ Several weeks ago I was asked (as a “committed sponsor”) by Compassion International look for a sponsor for a child who had been waiting for one for a long time. I had four weeks to find someone or she would be put back in the “general population.” I agreed and immediately blogged to ask if any was interested. Within days, a friend of mine whom I never would have thought to ask because we have often shared our financial struggles with each other, said that she and her 11-year old daughter wanted to give the family a Christmas gift of child sponsorship. I was so thrilled! I had participated in a life-giving event just by blogging. Yesterday, I received a thank you from Compassion for participating in the fall campaign to find sponsors: a small handmade burlap bag containing a simple but beautiful metal bird handmade in Haiti from recycled materials. It was a startlingly lovely reminder of the resilience we all have available to us if we dig deep enough.
♥ It was cute note card. At first glance I thought it was a my first Christmas card for 2014. Instead when I opened it, I found my first Christmas gift. In bold handwriting, the writer thanked me for the “wisdom you share in your teaching.” She went on to talk about “the ways you make a difference to so many people.” It was far from the first thank-you of my long career, but it came exactly at the right time.
♥ My son called on a Saturday recently to ask if he could bring my 9-year-old granddaughter over while he and his wife had dinner and ran some errands. I was not in the mood, but I agreed. While she was there, we played “Hit or Miss” The idea of the game is to pick a card with a category and then make a list of examples and compare them with others who are playing the game. Since it was just Rachel and I playing, we suspended the scoring rules. Toward the end of our playing time, the category was “things that keep you warm.” As we read our lists aloud, I noticed that instead of writing mittens I had written muffins. (This trouble with words happens often; I’m 72, after all!)
Pausing for a second, I showed Rachel what I had written. She burst out in laughter and yelled, “Grandma! Why did you write that? Muffins can’t keep your warm!” ( I make a batch of blueberry muffins nearly every day, since, for some reason, it is the one food my husband always know he can keep down. So I know muffins can help you feel loved and “fed” on many levels.) Her giggles continued as she began to imagine what we could do with muffins to keep warm. As we laughed together, I realized that we now had a private, inside joke that would remind us forever of a time we spent together. And sure enough as she waved good-bye and walked to her father’s car, she yelled, “Don’t forget your muffins if you go out. It’s really cold out here!” What a lovely ray of sunshine she had been in my life that day.
♥ I got a letter from my soon-to-be-15 year-old granddaughter yesterday requesting support for summer mission trip to Guatemala. It expressed her excitement over going to another country to help build or restore a 12′ x 12′ home, help with a food program, and provide shoes for the children so they can go to school. I knew about the trip because she had asked financial support for the trip for her Christmas present. I was excited for her then. However, when I read in her support letter that she thinks God is calling her to go on this trip because she “has always loved working with kids, and [she believes] that God’s plan for me in the future is to adopt and work with orphans,” I cried. How beautiful it is to see the legacy of “helping the least of these” alive in the third generation of my family.
All of these gifts from the Spirit made me recognize that lately my husband and I have been watching for every slip of gray cloud that wafts our way. We turn that cloud over and over in our minds and finally put it in a pile with all the others for the future reference. It’s time to look in another direction so we can spot those” improbable moments of grace.” (Ann Lamott)
I have often experienced “goose bumps” as you describe while reading, but no one has told me they had that experience with my writing. Thanks for letting me know!
Thank you so much for this essay. I just read it this morning. It gave me goose bumps, a clear indicator of truth and wisdom, and I will do my best to keep it in mind all day.
Wishing you a blessed holiday season.
Thank you all for reading and appreciating the blog. What we are all learning is that “choice” is an operative word in spiritual formation. We learn what is right and then we make the choice whether to do what we know works or continue on in our “stinking thinking.”
Thank you for this one. So true…when the gray clouds pile up, we CAN look in another direction.
You brightened my morning with such sunshine and often do. Thank you for writing and sharing!
Christmas Joy and Sunshine blessing to you!
So very beautiful, Karen! Thank you for making my morning!