cinnamon toast & pear slices: gathering grace wherever it falls
these might be called the sawdust days–dry and rough and shaved into crumbles.
some nights i fall into bed, thinking, hoping, praying maybe my tossings and turnings, the brackets in between sleep, will clear out my head and my heart and my soul.
but then i wake up in the morning, flop my feet on the floor, feel the twinge up my leg. and the one that toys with my heart. the one that weighs me down.
oh, it’s all sorts of somethings. the news from the box by the side of the bed, the one i ought to change, maybe, to mozart instead of the global markets’ collapse.
then there’s the news that comes folded on paper. the one that’s paid my paycheck all of these years. the one that brought me my truelove, and both of our boys; double bylines, we call them.
that ol’ paper brought me half the friends of my life, if i stopped and started to count. brought me nearly every adventure. brought me to the foot of heroes, known and unknown. brought me dinner tables brimming with stories. brought a skip to my heart.
brought me the nearest thing i ever felt to glory be: the miracle of seeing words typed in the near-dark or the fluorescent glow of the newsroom, tumbled onto the next morning’s headlines, onto the stoops and the bus and the train cars, the glory of feeling pulled–on a broomstick to heaven, so help me–to tell in plain words a life-changing story.
can’t tell you how many times the life that was changed was mine.
these days, though, i seem to be mourning. i’m caught, somehow, between what used to be news and how it works now. not sure if, in all of those pages, there’s a place for what i do best. or, at least what i love most of all.
so it is that i walk through these hours, sometimes aching and oftentimes wincing. i swallow back tears more often than anyone knows.
and i gather up grace, wherever it falls.
i’ve been through these kinds of days before. i’ve learned what it takes. the one sure, holy equation.
i’ve listened long and hard to wise souls all around me, ones who, too, for one reason or another, have tasted the dry crumbly dust in the mouth that comes with most kinds of grieving.
it’s these stretches of days when time ticks, but then loses its place. the tock comes, but not quite when you need it. you’re lost in your head–or is it your heart–as you strain to untangle the knots, see through the haze. time clearly is warped, and so is your sense of the surest way home.
on those kinds of days, when your feet weigh you down, and your insides do too, there’s only one sure cure to propel you into the light.
it’s grace gathering, pure and simple.
and its holiest spark is how it comes cloaked in the plainest of cloth. doesn’t come at you blinking and beeping and flashing bright lights. you just lay down a footstep and find that you’ve entered compartments of grace.
just today it came in cinnamon toast, studded with raisins, slathered with butter and drifted with mounds of cinnamon sugar. that toast shared the plate with a pear, sliced and juicy and waiting. for someone.
my little one, the one who brings me grace by the gallons these days, he was due to bound in the door any minute. i too had just stumbled in, as a matter of fact. day before, i’d plain missed the after-school hour, typing away at my faraway desk.
i could’ve skipped right over the moment, the chance, the grace in the wings. could have mad-dashed back to my desk. back to the work that’s never quite done.
but then, without folderol, without the trill of a drum, those scant few minutes–the ones when the backpack is shed and the stories spill fiercely–they invited me in.
come, come, they whispered. partake. take a moment, lift it up from this everyday altar. break bread. then, while you’re at it, they must have insisted, take it and toast it. lay it out where he’ll see it, where he’ll know in an instant: she was waiting for me. my mama, she knows how to feed me.
and so, grace descended on us, wrapped us, tight in the blanket of side-by-side comfort.
grace is balm for the soul. it feeds us in places that growl out in hunger. it moistens the parts that are parched.
grace is the prayer beads we string in a row. the rosary of life lived at attention. it’s the layer of soul tied to the divine.
and it comes unannounced most every time.
it comes, yes, in cinnamon toast. it comes, too, in the molasses light of october, the way it catches there on the last dying petal of the black-eyed susan i stubbornly keep in the vase on the sill.
it comes in the moon playing peek-a-boo behind the whipped-cream swirls of the clouds in the nightsky, a frolic so wholly delicious you stop on your way to dump out the trash, and next thing you know you’re humming along with all of the stirrings that come from the boughs and the bushes–a rhapsody you wouldn’t have heard, wouldn’t have taken in gulps, but for the something called grace that slowed you and held you. and seeped in through the cracks.
it comes, grace does, like the brush of the great palm of God, there on your brow.
be filled, it urges. take heart, it commands.
the world is more than you know, more than you see. there is, at work every hour, a layer of beauty and truth and infinite wisdom.
its name is grace.
and gather it greedily. it’s there for the hungry, the thirsty, the aching.
it’s there for the ones who believe. and it’s there for the ones who barely remember.
how does grace find you these days? do you find yourself in steep need of that holy tap on the shoulder?