when grace comes tumbling down
there are chapters in a life where with all your might you want to pick up the phone, spout out the question, and have a voice on the other end of the line fill in the blank.
tell you what you need to know.
point the way down the long, dark hallway.
heck, shove open the very door you need to walk through.
trouble is, there is no such voice. no human one anyway.
my mama, always wise in such matters, even in her minimalist, straight-to-the-point ways, advised simply: “this is when you pray.”
yesterday morn, rumbling downtown to work on the rickety, rail-swinging el train, i felt myself reaching deep down to what felt like a bottomless pit, and coming up without a clue. so, i did as mama said, i figured, all right then, i’ll shut my mouth and pray.
right there, amid the iPads and the tangle of cords plugged into ears and the starbucks mugs threatening to slosh all over my puffy snowcoat, i clicked my inner-tuner over to the God channel. i coughed up my motherlode of questions. i clung to the cold metal pole that’s there for riders like me, ones holding on for dear life as the train sloshes and slurs along the tracks.
i never did hear a squeaky voice in my ear (besides, i was one of the rare ones, not plugged in to dangly wires). i didn’t even hear a deep low bass.
but i listened with my whole heart.
and by the time i got to the grand avenue station i found myself climbing up the stairs with some measure of conviction. by jove, i began to think, i can do this. i can stare my fears, my trepidations, my full-throttle self doubts right in the eyeballs, and i can say, “move back, busters, i’m comin’ through.”
sometimes, prayer is like that.
sometimes the answer lies deep in the quiet of our oft-shoved-aside soul.
we are deep in big decisions over here at our house, and it’s enough to wear me out.
but — how curious life is — at every turn there seems to be a hand extended, a gentle word, a kleenex when needed. we find there in the dark woods other travelers, asking the same questions, trying to find their way too.
i am so deeply grateful for the grace that’s all around. for the wisdom that seeps in through the cracks beneath the door. for the light that shines from down the block in the deep darkness of the night.
i don’t yet have my roadmap. don’t know which path i’ll claim.
but i do know that i’m not alone. and one way or another, i’ll come through these dark and piney woods.
forgive my veiled words. specifics aren’t the point here. everyone’s life is a puzzle, some passages more than others. the point is that we find our way through our own formula of grace and stumbling. and when we get confused, light comes. dawn after dawn, it’s the promise of the heavens.
how do you find your way when you are lost in the woods?
i HIGHLy recommend reading Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go”. It’s just right for this occasion, said simply and ends with “now go find your mountain”. I nearly weep every time. See if you can find it, if not, i will write every word to you. i will.
When I am lost in the woods, I know I need to take a walk in the woods. Not in the literal sense, but to go somewhere, even the mall in the early morning, and pound the pavement or linoleum, helps me to think. And, of course, there are constant prayers said as I attempt to clear my mind of the outside world and simply think. i do believe it is because I remove myself from my usual paths, go somewhere different, that I can usually find my way. . . Best wishes to you as you come to your decision, BAM.
Ah, dear bam, these times can be so very uncomfortable. Prayers are coming your way, wrapping you close in heart, prayers that you may, indeed, hear that still, small voice and be led in a way which you can feel deeply is the path on which you are meant to be. Big hugs.
Prayer. The prayer that His will be done, that He guide the words we speak, the words we hear, our actions, me and everyone else involved. Then take a deep breath, and trust (and hope) that the next thing I say or do IS His will. It is hard, because we don’t hear James Earl Jones rumbling in our ears to tell us what to do (with or without earbuds). We just have to trust that whatever happens next, is best — and hope that we like it. I read that Maria von Trapp was afraid to step on her first escalator when they arrived in New York. a shopper standing behind her said “Close your eyes, lady, and take a step.” I always hear that after my prayer (though not in James Earl Jones’ voice,more like Rhoda Morgenstern), and I know I’m ready. Faith can be mighty scary, but later, much later sometimes, over a cup of chamomile, it’s a comfort. Adding my prayers to yours for the just outcome.
bless all your hearts, each and every one. believe me when i tell you that your prayers, your incantations, your whatever-you-do, it has lifted me up. and like that long glance up the trunks of the pines up above, i am settin’ my sights way high toward the heavens. and believing i’ll be bathed in the same dose of courage and baby steps that have carried me before……
dear friend, somehow as I took the first steps into the strange mixture of light and darkness that comes the first day after maternity leave, your words and the words and hugs of so may other mothers got me through my first days back at work. thanks kind friend for being there when I needed you.may the light in other people’s faces, the light in windows that show us we can step forth out of the prison bars that contain our deepest hopes and dreams hostage, and the light within that can only be noticed in the silence of the day find you in these days of winter
Been thinking much about “lost” and probably because cosmically/coincidentally I am re-reading “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” by Rebecca Solnit. It is just a full of wonder group of essays. Being lost has always been one of my favorite scary things. It is when I learn the most about myself and find the most grace in the world around me. It is an “alone” experience both physically and spiritually when I find that important things are lost or I am lost, as in when the world around me shifts and my markers are gone, that I feel control has vanished and that is a most unsettling feeling. It challenges me in a way that my comfort days do not. Without loss or being lost we would just never discover or uncover the riches of what is out there and in us. Be lost…be alert….be open and grace will find you. As always, thanks for your poetic and provocative posts!
i sigh the deepest most restorative sigh, just soaking in the words above, the wisdom above, the great good hearts and souls above. i feel so enchantingly blessed by the circle that is the chair. thank you thank you. i am feeling the need to pull up chairs in a real circle in a real sun-drenched room. but until that little miracle can happen, know that i lap up your every word. like cream to my fat ol’ cat…..
Dear bam, still praying, sending hugs…hoping you’re finding the answers you need and getting the support that comforts…
I don’t have a way with words as you and others here do, dearest bam … but when I pray, God directs my prayers and the words come. So, for you now, I’m praying. xoxox
i’m lost right there with you. adding wings to your prayers. xo
My thoughts and, of course, prayers are there for you.
Dear bam, many years ago I was geographically lost on a fast-moving highway in Washington state, driving a large, strange rental car. I could barely dare to take my eyes off the road and other cars whizzing past to glance at the map on the passenger’s seat. I was in starting-to-panic mode. But I remembered something I’d read on the flight from Chicago, an essay by Tim Cahill, “Getting Lost.” He advises, relax and enjoy it. You have become an explorer. “…[C]onsider your predicament a privilege…. When you’ve managed to stumble directly into the heart of the unknown… there is no one there to hold your hand or tell you what to do. In those bad lost moments, in the times when we are advised not to panic, we own the unknown, and the world belongs to us. The child within has full reign. Few of us are ever so free.”I relaxed, gripped the steering wheel with purpose instead of panic, looked around at the Pacific Northwest coastal environment I was so privileged to be barreling through and there appeared far ahead of me one of Washington’s magnificent volcanic mountains. Where would I ever see that through my windshield at home? I let intuition guide my course, and I found my way into whatever town I was searching for. And I did okay on the return trip, too. (With GPS in cars now, will anyone ever have the privilege of getting lost and making discoveries again?)Maybe the decisions facing you are not something you can enjoy, but perhaps you can relax, breathe, and suddenly see a beautiful mountain–a revelation, not an obstacle!–ahead of you. I’m thinking of you.