Sunday, October 26, 2014
She put her finger to her lips, spread her arms out to the crowd to further silence the room, plopped onto the overstuffed sofa, and loudly declared, “Everybody watch THIS!!” “Everybody,” that particular evening, included Granddaddy, Grammy, little sis, and me. What we were watching was the precocious four-year-old’s favorite scene in an otherwise continuous loop of animated entertainment.
I confess that I have had my own Everybody Watch THIS moments in my life, moments of appreciation and awe.
The entire family was up at the cottage one fourth of July. Sitting our backsides on the shore of Lake Huron, we had toasted the marshmallows, sung the campfire songs, and ooohed and ahhhed over the fireworks displays that ran the length of the beach. The night was dark, smelled of dying fire, and most everyone was heading back up to the house. Everyone was heading back in, that is, except for my husband and myself. We sat for a bit, alone, listening to the night. We didn’t speak. We sat simply breathing in the emerging silence, taking comfort in being in each other’s space at the end of a lovely evening. At one point, I looked up. The sky was massive in its darkness but was saturated almost completely with stars. I felt miniscule. My heart could not begin to take in all of what I saw. There is no word to describe what I felt. Everybody watch THIS!!
One afternoon, I had driven to a different beach, a quick fifty minutes from my house. It had been a tough week. I was in need of a little me time. I took a picnic lunch, found a table in the sand, kicked off my shoes and ate my veggie sub while watching the boats come in. It was end of season so the town was empty save for a few locals who know the pleasure in enjoying the lake without the trappings of tourists. I finished a couple chapters in a book I was working on, took pictures of the gulls, and watched the water glimmer in the sunshine. I shot a selfie or two at the lighthouse on the pier. I finished my day with a long barefoot walk on the beach. I was alone except for the two women who were also apparently enjoying a little me time, one with her trashy romance, the other with her bag of knitting. I walked far, past the ice cream shop that is packed with children in the summer months, past the condos, the summer homes, the cottage rentals. I walked past everything until I came to nothing, nothing but sand grass, dunes, water, and herons. I spent a quiet moment just listening to the waves hit the shore, breathing in the smell of fish and that other indescribable scent of fresh lake air. I stood in awe and again felt that my heart was not nearly big enough to absorb it all. Everybody watch THIS!!
Not every Everybody Watch THIS moment is compliments of nature. Sometimes it is the people in my life who impress me with their beauty.
A young woman sat in my office one day. She confessed to me that she was living in her car. She shared personal stories that left me in tears. That is all that I will say on this. This particular part of her story is not mine to tell. What I can tell you is that this student of mine, despite having no home, no money, no supportive family from the time she was sixteen had managed to pull herself up, go back to school, and learn to budget, take control of her finances, and begin the process of making a better life for herself. She learned that her beginnings were not her fault, that just because someone births us does not mean they know how to parent us, that she matters and that she has much to offer this world, that she is worthy of love and compassion and kindness from those around her and that she is worthy of the same from herself. She is climbing, slowly but certainly, out of the darkness from which she entered this world. Everybody watch THIS!!
I am moved by this young woman’s story because, and you know this by now, I did not have the easiest of beginnings to my own life. What others took for granted—food, clothing, shelter—did not come easily in my home. College. College was hard. And by all rights should not have happened as it did. I thank a dogged determination, bullheaded personality, God, serendipity, and cosmic intervention for that. I am where I am today because of a will to fight and because of those in my life who stepped in when stepping in was what was needed. I have struggled lately, to be honest, with my path, with my purpose. I have had my eyes fixed on what is before me. I have been focused, it seems, in the wrong direction. I have much in this life for which to be thankful. It is MY turn, I know now, to be the one doing the stepping in. It is MY turn to take my eyes off my OWN path, turn around, and offer a hand. It is MY turn to love and to lift and to give. Everybody watch THIS!