The first thing we saw while visiting the home of Thomas Jefferson was a collection of tools. A hammer. It made me smile. You would have thought the Declaration of Independence would be front and center, but it came after. Of course it did. First, there was work to be done. And there still is.
It was, I suppose, self evident that all men were created equal. Yet, they still had slaves. Today, we don’t have slaves, but there is still so much work to do. So the “hammer”, the work, must remain in the foreground. Knowing this, is a start. Maya Angelou always rings in my ear, “When you know better, you do better.” I want to do better – in everything.
I’m working on a collection of my daily blogs. It is entitled, “Pulling Nails.” Each time I make a frame at home in France, I take the reclaimed wood, pull out the nails, sand it, sand it again, and again, cut, strengthen, build something stronger, and it is beautiful. I suppose that has always been my goal. Take what has been given, and make it better. I hope I can do this. I hope we all can do this. Pull the nails and make something beautiful.
Let’s get to work.
Yesterday we went to a bookstore for the first time in over a year. How delicious! I had thought all morning, “Today, I want to buy myself a treat.” Now you might think a treat would involve sugar, or chocolate, and it sometimes does, but this time, I wanted a treat to fill my soul.
We only had a few minutes before our meeting, so I circled the wooden table holding the books in English. Each title smiled and reached out its hand. I wanted to bring them all home. I let my fingertips graze the covers. And they stopped. On a sky blue. The color, arresting. The title contained the word Chicago. I was already in flight. Saul Bellow wrote words of praise regarding this author. Saul Bellow – I was back in college, studying literature. The author – a single mother, and I was in Minnesota, with mine.
We had to leave. I purchased the book. Is it risky to buy a book within two minutes? Never hearing of the author? Never hearing of the book? But we had already been on a trip, you see… no longer strangers. In those two minutes, I had been taken on a journey, without even opening a page. The only risk would be to stop now. The book is sitting on my nightstand.
If you’re looking for certainty, living is probably the wrong business to be in. Life is chance. Risk. Stumbles. Unlit paths. But, oh, what a journey! If you take it. If you wait until you’re certain, until you’re prepared (whatever that means)… you won’t do anything.
Nothing prepares you for this day.
Your heart is cracked open.
So you cry.
The world keeps turning.
So you live.
No one tells your heart to stop beating.
So you love!
Nothing prepares you for this beautiful day.
Pull the book of today off the shelf. Open it wide. Dare to fill your soul. Dare to enjoy the ride!
I used to say that I never needed anything but cement beneath my feet. I said it with certainty. I would only live in the city. Sidewalks and pavement. That’s all I needed. But comfort has a way of packing its bags, never leaving a forwarding address, and one day you find yourself in a different country, mowing the lawn.
We have a very large yard. The french word for yard is jardin, or garden. I like this better. We have a big garden. Yard sounds more like a prison, but in a garden, you can roam and discover. And so I do. It took a minute for me to take in all of the beauty. The birds singing, the flowers blooming, the trees bearing fruit. Butterflies. All that “certainty” I carried for years flew off into the bluest of skies and I discovered a new way to live. Maybe with no certainty at all, but pleasure in this moment. And maybe that’s all we get. Maybe that’s all we need. Not certainty, but truth. A truth as pure and hopeful as children’s summer laughter.
I hear that laughter coming across the trees. I hear it in my heart. Even when I’m on my last leg of pushing that mower across a sea of green that I had once promised never to inhabit. Life changes. Daily. We can either shake our fists in the air, or fold them in thanks. Today, I choose thanks. Thanks for all the uncertainty, the newness, the unstable adventure of just living! Oh, look! The day’s beginning. Let’s enjoy the ride.
I woke up wondering how I would make the transition from yesterday’s post into today’s. Not like Casey Kasem (the famous radio host) ranting about making the transition from an uptempo song to a somber dedication – I wasn’t that concerned, but it was on my mind. But that’s life, isn’t it, making the transitions? It’s easy, or perhaps more understandable, to be in the middle of something. For example, it’s easy to be in love, and it’s easy to be single, but to make the transition from one to the other… well, I think we’ve all been there. Life gives us constant change, and we have to make the transitions.
Each morning, when I’m doing my French lessons, I know that right after I will be writing the daily blog. Some days I have an idea, and other days I don’t. I just begin to write. Beginning is always the most difficult. Once I start. The words flow. And I let them. I don’t edit. I hope that’s not too obvious… or maybe I do… I hope you can tell that each post is coming straight from my heart.
We’re all asked to go through things, impossible things. Here, in these transitions, is where we need the most grace, from ourselves and from each other. In the transition is where each new day begins. Each opportunity. Each glorious awakening. Believe in the unbelievable. Find the joy. Good morning!
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