The following is a post I wrote many months ago in a huge fluster of emotion. After writing it, I was so embarrassed of the deepness of feeling in which it was written that I couldn't bring myself to read it again. I never hit publish. I never read it over again, embarrassed of what I may have said.
Until today. And upon reading it for the first time, I deemed it worthy of sharing.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
Frederick Buechner Now and Then
I'm lying in a steamy still bath with my book, Soul Survivor, given to me with gentleness and quiet, unobtrusive wisdom from a friend who until that day had only met me once, if not twice, but was somehow connected to my deepest spiritual wastelands. Like each person the author, Phillip Yancey, introduces me to chapter by chapter, I am stirred emotionally, spiritually, and creatively. Today it is the words of Frederick Buechner, novelist-preacher.
I do not claim to be a great writer; I know that I am an undisciplined writer, a writer with too many friends and social functions to be a good writer - but in that moment, as I read those words, I have to get up and write.
I don't know what I have to write, only that I must do it, and now. I pull the drain plug, grab my towel and proceed to write.
"All moments are key moments." Buechner wrote a whole book about the mundane moments of life. If Buechner can find God in his breakfast and shaving his face, where might I find God?
I wake up each morning - about eight times between 5.30 and 6.30 - to my Samsung S3 crying, "Here we come to the turning of the seasons, witnessed to the arc towards the sun!" by The Decemberists. When I finally decide to stop snoozing and eke myself out from between my warm covers, my warm son and my warm husband, I stumble, with or without glasses, into the kitchen to pour cereal for my daughters. Often this is accompanied with an impatient 'HUSH! Your brother is sleeping!' I flick on the kettle, though it is very rare I ever get around to making or drinking that desired cup of tea. I unload the dishwasher. Sometimes I am surprised to see it has already been done. (These mornings I might then get my cup of tea.) I sometimes hang a load of laundry.
This is the start of my fathomless mystery? These are my key moments? Is God hiding somewhere in the Weetabix or the boiled, unused kettle? Is a surprise empty dishwasher a metaphor for God's miracles, or by not putting on my glasses, is that illustrative of how bleary our vision of the world is?
I wonder what I would find if I tried to attribute meaning to the boring and mundane aspects of my daily life. I'm sure I'd come up with some cheesy, churchy answers, but I'm not looking for churchy answers. I've had enough of churchy answers; I want to know if I'd find any real key moments worth investigating.
"Listen to your life." I like that. I really do. Buechner seems to be a writer they way I in some minuscule way I think of myself as a writer. I scour the remote inner corners of my memory and my mind and my emotions for inspiration and answers. I can't look out into nature, though I wish I were that kind of person and writer, but I can listen to my life. It's what I do anyway, it's where I spend most of my brain space, reflecting on who I am in the deepest, darkest sense, and how who I am affects everything I do and touch. I can listen to my life, though I'm not sure I quite believe it to be a fathomless mystery.
"All moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
If we are anything more than freaks of nature, products of some cataclysmic phenomenon, then there is some hope for a Meaning of Life. And if we are very lucky, we may be able to just sweep our fingertips down the flashing coattails of that meaning as it darts past us in a flurry of almost-attainable glorious fulfilment. But maybe it isn't luck; maybe it is intentional; maybe it is found in the looking, the waiting, like a photographer waits with finger on the shutter button for the butterfly to stop fluttering its wings for the one second needed to get a perfect, clear shot. If all this is possible, if there is even just the hope of hope, and if we can catch glints of it by waiting and listening, then life is grace, because we have been given a chance to find something we have no right to find.
I wonder what I'd find in the morning, between the 5.30 music alarm and the laundry and the un-made cups of tea... if I looked. If I listened. If I examined every moment as a key moment in the story of my life. If I viewed my whole life as grace itself. Would I glimpse God?
If God speaks to me, I think he must do it in sign language. I certainly don't 'hear God' and he has certainly never 'told me' anything. However if he is truly there, and truly has something to say, I'd like to know about it. God is silent with me, and I don't know why God is silent with me when all anyone else says is that he won't be. But just as we have no right to glimpse the meaning of life, we have no right to hear from God.
Still, I wonder... wonder what I might find if I look behind the mask of everything, in hopes of finding an answer or two?
I am an undisciplined writer and an undisciplined watcher. I am an undisciplined seeker.
I need to open my eyes wider and see what there is to see. I need to be on look-out for meaning and answers and questions and key moments that are defining my life without my knowing it. Life itself is grace. It's a heavy concept...