Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grace All Around Us

Yesterday, as Herb and I were having a quick last minute breakfast at Denver International Airport, he said the sweetest thing to me. It filled me with love for him and hope for our future. I was reflecting on how much we've been, from my perspective, arguing, and Herb said, "That's not arguing. We're just crabbing at each other. That's something couples do all the time." I joked that it must be our senior citizen status that causes us to be so much more crabby these days. Patience is not a virtue that grows with age in all older people. Some of us lose patience as our knees don't cooperate and sleep escapes us.

What a gracious gift - to have one's argumentative behavior viewed as just "crabbing," the sort of thing that happens in relationships, like saying "Good morning," or "Would you like a cup of tea?" in everyday life. It felt like a blanket forgiveness for the intransigence and selfishness that I'm feeling when I'm "crabbing." It was my husband telling me that I'm okay and he still loves me.

Today at church, Fr. Max Bailey preached an inspiring sermon on the importance of seeking connection with the mysteries of life and creation. He challenged each of us to wonder and to become enveloped by the mysteries that aren't quantifiable by science and math or definable by words, but just might be hinted at by poets, artists and musicians. I am reminded not only to stop and smell the roses when I pass by roses, but to mark out time on my calendar to seek out rose gardens intentionally amidst all the meetings and confabs that clog not only my calendar but perhaps also my heart.

Between Christmas and New Year's Day I attended a gathering to brainstorm how to support two Hispanic lay pastoral ministers from Chile, who are transitioning from positions lost to changes in clergy staff at a local mission. Over lunch in the midst of running errands, Ximena told me about their call to do ministry among the Latinos in Denver. She is passionate about how much she and Arturo feel called to this work, because, as she pointed out, otherwise, why would anyone choose to leave their children and grandchildren, their familial home, their friends and livelihood in Chile, in order to live at the margins in downtown Denver. Ximena said that they can help people who have even less than they have, who have fewer skills and fewer opportunities than she and Arturo. Their faithfulness humbles and inspires me. So, Herb and I have become co-sponsors of their ministry.

When I returned from church this morning, my mother took me aside for a chat. I have to admit that my initial reaction to Mom's wanting to chat is often "Oh, oh, what now." Mom surprised me with an offer to move into an apartment to give Herb and me more privacy upon his retirement when he will presumably spend more time at home in Colorado. What a generous offer from Mom!

Of course, I told Mom it would not be necessary, because our house has been home to all of us since 2000, and at one time, also housed Cece before she left for college 6-1/2 years ago. There is more than enough physical and psychic space for all of us to live here together for many more years. We have been truly blessed to have Mom with us, because she is a housemate who does an awesome amount of work and showers an abundance of loving attention on Herb and me, as well as our children and grandchildren.

Too often I have my eyes tuned to the computer screen and my attention turned inward to planning what I want to do and say, and I miss the cottontail that scampers across the front yard or the owl hooting in the very early morning in the neighbor's cottonwood tree. I often miss the piece of fruit just at its ripest and the last sigh of the rose before its petals drift downward. Dwelling in the mystery requires a stillness that one must do more than aspire to. One must truly stop in order to be still. I'm working on it, no doubt, a contradiction in terms. "Working on it" must become a full stop - grace in us.

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