It was just after dawn on Sunday morning. I was washing raspberries at the kitchen sink, and thinking ahead to Monday.
My friend Paula had spent the weekend with us, and when she came into the kitchen, she startled me with her gasp.
“Jennifer!” she cried out. “Look. Look outside!”
I lifted my eyes to see what Paula saw, while the water kept running cold over my hands.
Paula bolted out the back door with her iPhone, to capture moments. It was a subzero morning, and my friend forgot to put on her shoes. Or maybe she figured she was about to step on holy ground. I can’t say for sure. But out she went, barefoot.
I turned off the water and stood stock-still at the kitchen sink.
Paula rushed back in, giggling this long stream of joy at her discoveries. She slipped on her shoes, and I watched out the kitchen window, from my sink. I watched how she ran across my yard, through snow and wind, running after beauty.
I felt tears spring up, and I was jealous for her eyes. She was like a child, chasing God in my yard.
When was the last time … ?
Sometimes I can’t see it. But there it waits: outside my window, under my feet, begging me to look. I have been burdened by the pain and suffering of people I love — in my own family, and in my church, and in my neighborhood. And I forget to see where the beauty still is. And it still. is. Beauty still is, stubbornly persisting despite suffering in our cold world.
I forget to look at the beauty of all that is. Even the coldest days are crammed with burning bushes, and the beauty of NOW. Yet I inhabit my tomorrows.
Emily Dickinson wrote that forever is composed of nows. How often I forget it.
The real geniuses in this life aren’t the people in ivory towers, with their names written on the spines of thick volumes.
They are the people with their eyes on the divine nature of thin places.
They aren’t living fast-forward, but in real time. Sometimes, I’m blind, and I need the eyes of a friend to help me remember to:
Inhabit your moments.
Dwell in your nows.
Touch the hem of heaven
before you go to live there.
Sure. We can learn from our pasts, and we can make plans for our futures. But the only place to really live is now.
I’ve only begun to learn that the real beauty is in moments — somewhere between the hay bales and the sticky countertops and the Monday laundry piles.
We’re all broken people — being made whole in the simple, holy, ordinary moments, in these unpretentious places. We’re living the remarkable, in what some find unremarkable — and that’s where the burning bushes are. We’re taking out the trash, and feeding the cats, and packing school lunches, and folding denim. And if we’re parents, we’re raising our miniature humans to be people of light in a world that can sometimes feel dark.
The moments that shape us are the moments that might never get noticed.
Your burning-bush moments… They taste like maple syrup, and they put fresh fingerprints on your Windex-ed windows. Your moments wake up before dawn, to stand next to you in the dark, whispering: “Can I sleep by you, Mommy?”
Your moments are out your kitchen window, grabbing you by the hand, inviting you to take hold of forever by inhabiting today.
Forever is but a series of nows, extending out toward heaven.
I saw Paula, dwelling in the miracle of now.
And I stepped outside, barefoot.
(All photos taken by Paula, in my yard)
YOUR TURN: Tell me about the beauty of your “now.”
Can you spy God out your own back door? Tell me with words or pictures. (Feel free to upload a picture into the comment box!) Or, post photos of your everyday beauty on Instagram or Facebook this week. Use the hashtag #holyground so I can find you.