Thursday, July 1, 2010

Huffing Grace

Sometimes grace presents itself with fanfare and feathered hats and neon arrows blinking on and off while cancan music blares in the background. And I find myself wide-eyed, slack-jawed, shuffling along in the direction of all the shiny things.

Sometimes it pushes itself up through the hard earth and looks as though it could use some tending to, a little protection from the cold and then in the middle of a pea-soupy fog it gathers all the courage it has, opens itself right up, and positively glows from the inside out through the gloom.

Sometimes gratitude and generosity are equally easy to come by and difficult to ignore, big bosomed, swinging tassels to a catchy tune. I can’t help but bob my head and sing along.
Sometimes the fog rolls in and it’s hard to see beyond my own discontent.

Here’s what I’m learning: It’s so much easier to be randomly kind when I am in a good mood. When things are feeling oppressive or budgets are tight or we are running low on chocolate, I sprout a large, deciduous horn from my head and dare the universe to mess with me and then I hibernate for several days, safely tucked away from the fan fare and any stray sequins.

I’m getting to know myself well enough to note the onset of Antler Season. It has been my intention of late to step outside of myself and feel my way through the fog, to note the tender mercies unfolding around me, and to soothe the itch on my scalp with a poultice consisting of, but not limited to: a pinch of patience (with myself especially,) a piece of acuity, and a smidge of perspective…and a cup of tea.

Despite my own weeping growths and self pity and exorbitant time spent in my pajama pants, there are things that have blossomed around me in the earliest whispers of spring:

· A friend of mine was the recipient of a coffee purchased for her by an anonymous benefactor in the SUV in ahead of her at the coffee shop drive-thru. It absolutely made her day.
· A friend who sits on the Board of Directors of a local non-profit donated a large sum of money to the organization so that it will be able to write grants on a grander scale.
· Another friend of mine picked up a few things for my family at the Asian market on her way over to my house. Just a few things that she thought we’d enjoy. And we do. (Have you tried Bubble Tea?)
· My daughter’s 7th grade class is taking a series of field trips to local charities as a volunteer workforce.
· A restaurant I happened into while traveling encourages its patrons to commit random acts of kindness in lieu of tipping.

All of these serving as reminders to push my way through.

I had the incredible thrill of meeting Anne Lamott on a particularly pea-soupy evening last weekend. She spoke to a room of 200 or so of us. She was genuine and lovely. I was particularly marked by her authenticity. Anyone who has read any of her work knows that she is not overly concerned with coming across as optimistic and not at all sugar coated. She spoke to us about the drug situation our children are going to be facing as they come of age. (And that the best dope is in the middle schools. And it’s cheap because they are middle schoolers.) She talked about writing and honoring your artistic nature. She talked about how hard it is to be a teenage girl in this culture and when she learned that I have two daughters on the cusp of teen-dom, she looked me in the eye and said, “Pay attention. Make the rules. Be very clear.” And then she told me to have them make their beds every day.

She also said, “The grace of God is either glue or WD-40…or fresh air,” and this is the corner of the evening that I have pinched off and keep in my pocket to finger throughout the day. When the inside of my rib cage gets itchy and my neighbors’ dog is barking for the 6th straight hour and I’m entertaining the idea of goring the next person who crosses my path, I remember to breathe. And then I set off (in my pj pants) in search of gumball machines.

What are some of the ways you have been uncommonly kind even when you’d rather have stuck your foot out and tripped someone than sprinkled a little grace?

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This was originally published on The Women's Colony. I just wanted to make sure it made it over to my place. Hopefully I'll be back here soon with more mind-numbing insights.