Thursday, January 27, 2011

He's Been Doubly Good To Me

"And if you find a love that's tender
If you find someone who's true
Thank the Lord
He's been doubly good to you"  -- Amy Grant

I've done something over 7,000 times, for over 21 years and still I smile almost every single time.  John often goes to bed earlier than me.  Sometimes we go to bed at the same time and there's this feeling of being sneaky.  Having two teenagers around keeps somebody usually up but occasionally they go to bed and we can too.  Mostly though, I come to bed an hour or two after John.  It's dark.  It's cold.  I'm tired: tumble-into-bed-and-pass-out tired. I slide into bed and feel the comfort of flannel sheets.  I find his hand and whether he's dead asleep or not, he holds mine.  I feel a comfort, a safety and a shield in that moment that cannot be explained. He takes a deep breath and I marvel at this ordinary gift that millions of others have shared...marriage.  I still can't get over that we get to be together every single day.  Living several hours away from each other for a few years after college made me realize that he was the one person I needed to see every single day.  He was the one person who I wanted to slide next to in the middle of the night.  I remember being newly married and giggling with John.  This level of companionship, friendship and love should be illegal.  It was too great! 

Now, after 21 years (which by the way is so bizarre -- how can that be?), it's tempting to think it will always be this way.  But having witnessed couples struggle with difficult illnesses or seen the slow, sad dismantling of relationships, it seems more precious than ever.  I steal into bed most nights and try to freeze it in my mind.  If only I could somehow take a picture of this moment.  But it's dark, we're tired and what would the photo be: two lumps under the covers?  That sacred space between us, surrounding us, enveloping us is just   In that space we have sobbed into each other's arms full of fear and disbelief and sadness.  We have laughed our butts off.  We have disagreed and argued and wrestled with the tough stuff.  We have imagined, dreamed, and been over the top in our crazy, irrational love for our kids.  We have been silent and yet said everything.  We have welcomed sick kids, sad kids, scared kids or kids who just need to be in the middle of that sacred space to feel the warmth and love and genuine care that is there.  In that space, I feel with all my heart that "the Lord's been doubly good to me" and I hold it tenderly and acknowledge the gift.  Tonight, that tiniest of graces will happen again.  I'll slide in, find his hand and come home.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who Taught You?

I want to share with you one of my favorite spots on the internet:  It has a place where you can sign up for a quote of the day that is focused on gratitude and it is the first thing I read on the web every day.  It always gets me to the right place in my head as I begin my day.

On the first of the year, I noticed that an e-course was being offered focusing on the writings of Brother David Steindl-Rast (the co-founder of and it seemed like a sign -- a new year, a new class and a focus on gratitude.  I'm all over it. And so I began a 40 day journey...

Day 9 asked the question: Who has been your gratefulness mentor?  It got me thinking and it is in large part what got this blog started.  Here is my answer:

"My most important mentor in living a grateful life is my 11 year old son, Patrick, who has Down Syndrome. I began keeping a grateful journal for Lent about 7 years ago while he was in the midst of fighting for his life against leukemia. At the time, I was angry and bitter and not very grateful at all. Patrick, on the other hand, greeted each of his doctors or nurses or any stranger he met in the hospital with the reverence and blessing they each deserved. There was a point when he was receiving a heavy dose of a particularly nasty drug and he couldn't walk and he had to go in for 8 days straight to receive the dose. I literally felt like I was allowing him to be poisoned and I felt tortured each and every time I carried him in to the hospital. On the next to the last day, I was crying silent tears as I was walking through the hospital doors and Patrick was so very weak from the effects I was heartbroken. In this moment an elderly man comes toward us through the doors and Patrick lifts his head off my shoulders and waves to him with a tired smile.

It was one of those moments that just crystallizes everything. Patrick had the ability and the spirit to acknowledge the blessing of paths crossing, no matter how weakened he was. He was my guide and my hero through my darkest days.

Today, Patrick is healthy and living a life filled with gratitude. Whenever anyone comes in, he acknowledges them, his level of compassion for others, his example of seeing the beautiful in the ordinary and his ability to be enthusiastic and effervescent daily guide me through just as he did long ago.

I am grateful beyond measure that he has graced my life and know that he has been my dearest and most important teacher in almost all parts of living but especially in living with a grateful heart."

And my question to you?  Who has been your mentor?  Who has helped you notice the "grace in the ordinary"?  Better yet, have you been someone's mentor or guide?  If so, whom?

Welcome to my little corner of the internet!

For quite a while I have been wrestling with the idea of having a blog.  I wanted it to MEAN something on a grand scale and then I got stuck.  Then I just wanted it to be a place to think...that helped a bit.  Today I realized that this whole process is a lot like getting a dog.  You have to be willing to take it on walks (or post), you have to be careful that your dog doesn't act too crazy around others (your words aren't offensive) and you have a to take a leap of faith.

I have a little corner of the internet all to myself!  I'm excited.  I want to use this spot to acknowledge the grace that is in the ordinary.  Sometimes it may just be a photo.  Sometimes a crystallized moment.

Today's is about Buddy...which is of course, cosmically correct.  This morning I was hours late for his regular old walk.  I was feeling guilty and lame.  I was hesitant to even look at him since I thought he might have that...Hey-you-lame-human-have-you-noticed-yet-you-owe-me-a-walk look.  But, he didn't.  Instead, he hung out by me as I was getting ready.  Just for the sheer joy of hanging around with me.  Yep. I'm that good.  He rolled around on his back on the floor as I made my bed, twisting and fully enjoying the chance to play by himself on his back in a big open space.  It was at that moment that I paused and realized for the millionth time that maybe we can learn profound truths from dogs.  They sure know how to live: greeting every single person with warmth and wild abandon, napping frequently and always ready for a walk around the block with a friend. More than anything, they live in the moment.  Right now is exactly right.  Today's grace: You really are enough, perfectly enough.  Buddy's shown me so and I believe him.