My husband Nick is in LA for the week, which means I am solo parenting our five kids, and if you are picturing me doing this with grace and ease, let me assure you there’s a fair amount of flailing involved.
Even as I type this, I’m watching anxiously as the clock inches closer and closer to the moment when chaos arrives home. I am trying to find something to say that acknowledges how pressed these domestic days are but also holds the agonizing heartbreak and helplessness I feel at the violence unfolding in our world this week.
Meanwhile, in spite of myself, I’m picturing how very soon my kids will be tumbling through the door and spraying their very big feelings from their own days all over me–
and then, to get even more meta, as I was typing that— there was a knock on my actual front door!
Wallace started barking, it startled me, and I ran down with my heart pounding to find–
Standing there a little awkwardly.
With two bags of apples, he had picked for us.
Oh, friend, the apples were bright green and shiny with rain.
And then I cried finally, in a way I haven’t been able to cry the past few days.
I’ve been trying to let my feelings move through me, coming back into my body even though it feels a little like a distant land, but this act of kindness was what undid me.
Even as I’ve felt so scattered this week– dashing from a heartfelt conversation with a client to grabbing the soccer cleats– I’ve been grabbed and shaken by the sheer ordinary beauty of my life.
The clean water that pours out of the faucet to wash our hands and dishes. How the light falls on the eggs on my counter. The way the dahlias my friend grew seem to glow. My children’s beautiful, untouched faces.
And I keep thinking:
Let me give this beautiful life the reverence it deserves.
This reverence, this saturated presence, is wildly out of sync with the sense of frantic urgency I feel emanating from my phone. It urges pick me up, read another article, stay informed, be horrified– do something, do something-– then slams me with my utter sense of helplessness.
But my neighbour brought me apples.
The chickens are laying eggs.
There is a novel on my bedside table that is nourishing as hot broth.
And there is also this– since I talk to kindred spirits all day about the most tender parts of their lives, I can tell you that while the hurt rages and intensifies in some places, there are also people going about the quiet and invisible business of taking the world they inherited– both physical and emotional– and healing it. Making it more beautiful, one tiny action at a time.
This, too, makes reverence flare up in me.
What a wild and hopeful act. To choose integrity, even when it seems like it doesn’t make a difference; to transform the spiritual DNA you pass on to your family and the world; to stay open when you were taught to close tight; to stretch when you were shown how to fold; to pour gentleness instead of criticism on someone’s humanity, maybe even your own–
this is a brave and beautiful thing.
Our humanity can be so beautiful. We can also be monstrous. It takes a certain kind of courage to witness the truth of how we hurt each other, but not accept is as our only possibility.
May that courage be yours.
May we give this life the reverence it deserves.
And may you pour gentleness on your own heart this week. May it be as rich as broth, as sweet as apples.