So many very small but very beautiful things have happened in my life as of late. This has provoked some good thinking and reflecting, and what I have come to is this: life, though we hesitate to say it straightforwardly, is unpredictable and tumultuous and often strange and just downright hard... but in the midst of the struggle and confusion, there are many small moments of beauty bringing hope and joy. And in this big, strange, confusing life, it is these small moments that carry us through.
This latest season of my life has been the most confusing and uncertain that I have yet experienced, but these small moments remind me that life is a wondrous and worthwhile thing... and not just in spite of everything but rather because of everything... because beauty glimmers through the cracks of the brokenness and dirtiness and imperfection of our lives. So I thought that I would share with you some of the beauty I have experienced:
[A SIMPLE ACT] One rainy day, while grocery shopping at Harvest Health, I ran into a professor from my dear alma mater. I never took a class from him, nor does he teach in any of my areas of concentration, but I know him from various interactions on campus and around town. We paused to talk; I admired his beautiful baby, who he affectionately calls Beetle, and he asked what I was up to these days. I explained my part-time job and yet-unsuccessful search for a second job, and after a short but lovely conversation, we both continued on in search of grains in bulk and ingredients for vegan baking. As I checked out, he paused en route to the door, reaching into his shopping bag and taking out a cookie (and not just a cookie, mind you, but a very good vegan cookie). Handing it to me, my wonderful professor friend said, "This is from Beetle. Good luck finding that second job." He disappeared out the door. I held back the sudden urge to burst into tears. The whole world felt kinder.
[UNANTICIPATED CARE] My job at CBI expanded significantly as of this week, which is a tremendous blessing as I can sustain myself financially with these increased hours plus freelance writing/editing/etc. And the smaller -- but no less significant -- moment of beauty was this: when my supervisor, an incredibly kind woman who had been keeping up with my second job search and praying for me throughout, heard that my job had expanded (the additional hours are in another area of the organization), she was absolutely thrilled, nearly to tears. And this from a woman I've known for just a month.
[COMMUNITY] A friend of a friend's family has a farm and presses apple cider every fall, and several friends and I joined them for this lovely event a few weekends ago. The day was filled with the beautiful community of a group of strangers, small children unabashedly expressing the amazement we all felt at the magic of the wondrous old cider press, freezing fall winds and brightly colored leaves, homemade pumpkin bread and donuts and spicy vegetarian chili, copious amounts of cider and, of course, my beautiful friends.
[FRIENDSHIP] My once-housemate and very dear friend E was in town last weekend for a wedding, accompanied by the wonderful Larry, and we met on Saturday morning for a lengthy brunch at Marie Catrib's (note: favorite. restaurant. ever.). E is a beautiful human being; she makes me feel more alive. Larry is one of the kindest, most genuine men I know. Amazing food, hot coffee, good conversation. Beautiful. And then one of my closest friends from back home appeared here that same weekend; Kevin is traveling with and running video for a concert tour. Spending time with him encouraged my soul and threw me back to our high school days, where I found some lovely memories I had forgotten about. And then I observed him in action, and I was so proud. I love seeing my friends doing exciting things in the great big world.
[ART] One night during ArtPrize (which was wonderful all around -- good work Grand Rapids), I left the public library and turned the corner to see the mosaic on the side of the Children's Museum shimmering in the darkness, sparks of light darting from the tiny mirrored tiles and twinkling in the quiet street. Magical.
[FAMILY] My parents came to visit for no reason in particular, and they are fabulous people. My mother is immeasurably kind. My dad is hilarious. They love so well. And they came bearing sweaters I had forgotten I owned and thick winter socks to keep my toes warm as the temperature drops.
[FOOD] My recent baking endeavors have been successful, though not always conventionally successful... which ultimately made them all the more wonderful... more details to come.
You see, my friends, these small moments make all the difference in this complicated life. A cookie for encouragement, the bustle of community, art that speaks of hope, the mere presence of a friend, good food eaten with loved ones, warm clothes for the coming cold, fall leaves and apple cider... This is how I carry on.
So I am sitting here in my room in our little flat while blustering winds blow outside and raindrops gently patter on the windows, cuddled up in two warm sweaters, smelling the lingering scent of coffee mingled with traces of the delicata squash I roasted for dinner and listening to Rosie Thomas singing peace into my ear.
And I know all will be well.