Saturday, 16 January 2016

Just a little grace

I had a blog all written earlier this week, a blog about New Year’s "ReVolutions" instead of "reSolutions". It was a riff off a blog written by Parker Palmer. My blog sounded like a sermon, his sounded so much better. Read his, instead (you can find the link at the bottom of this page).

But that wasn’t the only reason I changed my mind about posting my piece. What I realized is that sometimes we  – okay, okay, I – can just escape my own issues if I get up on a pulpit and sermonize in beautiful words. I speak good ideas, but they are not from the heart, the heart that is a bit bruised and sad and feeling beat up these days.

It’s January, and most people, when they take stock, will admit to a touch of the blues. Those blues may be the aftermath of seasonal celebrations – too much, too much of everything. Or perhaps it’s thinking sadly about all the resolutions you’ve made in years past that haven’t made a lick of difference in your life. It may just be the season – not enough sunshine, short days and long stretches of darkness. Whatever the cause, the January blues hit, and you’re stuck in them.

For me, the temptation then is to escape into my ivory tower and think lofty thoughts – it’s easier to pontificate about vast and airy concepts than to come to grips with what’s really ailing me. And boy, can I pontificate with the best of them. Here’s a line from the blog I discarded: “The enemies of love, truth and justice are many, and we see them at work in our society every day:  racism, xenophobia, lies, favouritism, entitlement, cheating, violence, hate, materialism, and on and on.” Uh-huh. So true. So cliche. So lah-di-dah-di-dah. So what?

Time to pony up and tell the truth. The resident sweetie and I are fussing over some issues in our lives that need resolution. You too? My creativity seems to have gone for a walk. Al has developed a medical problem, so we’re living in limbo till the next step can be decided. We’ve had to kibosh travel plans. Someone who is dear to us is facing a life challenge. It’s January, and looking on the bright side is more difficult in January. These issues occupy quite a bit of our conversation and sometimes disturb our sleep at night. For these issues, we don’t need words in a sermon.

In this frame of mind, I went off to the quilt guild yesterday. For someone professing to like time alone, sitting in a room full of women who are sewing , snipping, chatting, admiring each other’s work, or just hanging around catching up on the gossip, may be a strange choice. But  at least I’d get some worthwhile work done, and also be distracted from my own preoccupations.

Nothing earth-shaking happened. No great flash of insight pierced the grayness. We engaged with each other in the common ordinariness of working together, sharing ideas and tips, catching up on what was happening. We talked about how much we hate it when young newscasters, reporting on a 67-year old woman, might describe her as an "elderly" victim. We laughed. Well, EXCUSE me! We do admit to being older than the young whippersnapper newscaster, but we don’t want to be labelled. We shared some of the ways we know we are older – arthritic hips, frequent bathroom trips at night, sleeplessness. “And what keeps you awake at night, Jessie?” asked someone. I shared a little snippet of my anxiety. They listened. Just listened, and nodded in recognition. They’d been there, they’d faced those same questions and issues. We ate some lunch, chatted some more, helped each other take down tables when we were done. And then we went home.

“Was it a good day?” asked the sweetie, when I walked through the door. “Yes,”  I said, “yes!”

As I wrote in my sermon/blog, there are a lot of enemies of the good things in life and sometimes we can get mired in the muck that the enemies carry with them. It’s easy to begin thinking we live in a grim world, and there’s not a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. But if we open our eyes, we begin to see that there are also moments of grace that shine through. We realize that we are walking through this world in good company, that we are not alone. We exist in a community of others, we form a circle, and the others are so much like we are. We listen, we laugh, we share stories, we share griefs and burdens, and we extend  grace to each other, which goodness knows, we all need.

Crows know: they need each other.
I didn’t need lofty words and big ideas that day. I needed to be with ordinary people doing routine things, just to realize how extraordinary life actually is, with all its shining facets and permutations. I needed the grace of small things, which when you put them all together, add up to a whopping pile of amazing grace.

This mandala was a black and white puzzle which got completed here over Christmas, then coloured with markers -- little bits and pieces, put together, to make a lovely whole.

You might wish to read more of Palmer’s fine blog, and his list of revolutions, at

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtful blog, Jessie. I tried but didn't make it to guild on Thursday to share in the camaraderie that you speak of. You are right in all you say about it.