If you’ve been reading my inane ramblings for a while, you may have noticed a trend… I have issues with religion. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
(Oh, sidenote. I have to tell a funny story. I apparently use the word “issue” a lot, as do my sisters. I don’t know why… we just do. So, not long ago, in Ohio, my sister Jennifer breaks with the sheer overwhelmedness of it all & has a total meltdown. Like snot, tears, sobbing, the whole enchilada. And from the backseat of the car, Maggie’s little two-yr-old voice pipes up inquiringly, “Hey Mommy, you got da issue?”And then Jennifer’s hysterical tears became hysterical laughter. That story still makes me giggle. I ask Bobby often if he’s “got da issue.”)
Issues with religion. I got dem. In the early days of this blog, when my journal was still just a burgeoning Word document, I was pissed. Like super-duper-I-want-everybody-to-die-I-know-you-didn’t-just-look-at-me-bitch pissed. As the anger passed lessened, I finally worked my way back into a rather liberal religious setting. And then the thinking began. Thinking’s a lot more work than being pissed, ya’ll.
The common denominator, the thing that I’ve struggled with the most, is the concept of grace. What is it? Why should I care? How does it apply to me? And the big stinker: how does it play with my sweet, loving, never-misbehaved-in-her-whole-life Mama dying of cancer? And then, coincidentally enough, the talk this past Sunday was all about grace. This Buechner quote was on the program this past Sunday, and I’ve been carrying it with me since. I’ve pulled it out several times to read it again, to see it I still like it as much as I did the first time. I do.
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.
~ Frederick Buechner
Beautiful and terrible things. Those are the words that leap out of this quote at me. Because it’s a statement. No judgement, no evaluative quality to the words, just a simple statement about the state of humanity and being in the world. Beautiful and terrible things WILL happen. They are not optional.
The terrible things, I’m really good at noticing. The beautiful things, not so much. I’m so busy thinking about what my life isn’t that I’m ashamed to say I often miss what my life actually IS.
And I said all that to say this: I think I shall begin a “gratitude journal.” I know, how very Oprah of me, right? I think that sarcasm is often my defense mechanism. And honestly? I enjoy reading the snarkiness of others and contributing my own. But I’m doing myself a disservice to only encourage the cynical & caustic. Love me a good dose of acidic, mocking sarcasm. But what about the good stuff, as boring & Pollyanna-ish as it may feel? And so I’m going to try. Beginning today, I want to list five beautiful things, things that have been given to me as a gift to enjoy. As a gift to make my life better. I’m going to try to list them even when I’m feeling crappy. Or maybe ESPECIALLY when I’m feeling crappy. I’m probably going to feel quite stupid because it’s just not me. But “not me” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
And in case you’re wondering, no, this isn’t my idea. “Grace in Small Things” actually originated with a therapist (not Oprah), and came into being here. It’s a good thing, ya’ll.