The day began like most do, harried and rushed. It was a Friday and the frenetic activity in my home during the ever tenuous minutes between 6:00 and 7:00 am seemed heightened as I readied my hesitant adolescents for another day. I could almost hear the seconds on the clock ticking away like the presence of an incorrigible nat during a summer picnic at dusk. I could feel my patience wane and the words strung together from my mouth held very little grace. As the screen door screeched shut, signaling the exodus of my little feet draggers, I leaned heavily against the wall and sighed with a strange mix of relief and regret. The quiet was palliative but it did not silence the nagging desire in my gut for a do over to the morning.
A little over an hour later I arrived at the door to my office juggling an armful of papers and books, an oversized purse, the contents of which could keep the inhabitants of a small island alive for a good week, and a dripping mug of lukewarm coffee. As I lowered myself into my desk chair and began to run through the agenda for the day in my head, a small post it note placed strategically on the screen of my computer caught my eye. I felt a familiar catch in my throat as I read the words written on the small piece of paper, “Have a beautiful day mommy I love you so very much, remember it’s Friday! (Matthew 11-28-30) love – Hannah” and the world stopped. We have all had those moments in time when the rotation of the earth seems to slow. In that moment I realized that no matter what the rest of time holds, I will remember every detail of this infinitesimal speck of time forever.
I am a big picture person. I have lived for milestones and the scope of my vision is deep and wide. But I am becoming, and becoming is a process. It is a journey of mountain top moments, moments in the desert and moments in between. In becoming I am realizing that we do not always remember milestones, months, weeks and even days…we remember moments. Every day we are given the gift of little pieces of time that serve to pull us out of ourselves. We hear the sweet song of a toddler in a tutu in the middle of the mundane, we catch a gentle loving glimpse between a sweet elderly couple who has spent a lifetime of moments together, or we have a face to face encounter with grace personified on a post it note, the gift of words from deep within the treasure of a child’s love for us. These small moments are the true story-making events of our lives.
There it is again, the gift of grief. I have only recently, in the spiral of loss, come to understand that scores of moments have passed me by because I took them for granted, I simply expected millions more. What I realize now is that sometimes the smallest pebble thrown into the stark stillness of a lake can make the biggest ripples. Over the last few months I have been reminded that many of the most profound spiritual moments of my life have happened while holding one of my children in the middle of the night, while experiencing God in a waterside stroll or simply in the presence of the people I love gathered around the table for a shared meal.
I wanted to freeze the sweet moment I discovered that post it note forever, along with the song of the wind chimes on my porch, the smell of my mother’s perfume and the impish grin and twinkling eyes of my toddler son still visible on his adolescent face. God reveals Himself like surprise gifts on our doorstep, special moments that present in quiet whispers and every day ways. They are rich, beautiful and meaningful, even when they are wrapped in pain. And so I will tuck away the moments, stored like treasures hidden deep in my heart. And I will unwrap them again and again.