I have missed more than one rich moment to view life through a wild kaleidoscope lens, to experience beauty, wonder and awe, to play hostess to the fragrant details of the world.

To slow chew, sip, and savor goodness. I have been my own worst enemy. I’ve stuffed the invitation, the one which says “come be dazzled” and “come live lavishly”. The gentle pastel watercolor invitation tossed onto a stack of bulk rate junk mail. As if it was in good company there. I am certain that the wondrous, miraculous, exquisite God-designs were there all the days and years of my life. And I was there or here too. But we were often on opposite sides of a cavernous room. I, an overlooker. Perhaps I was just an April fool.

Mercifully now I hear, see, smell and taste the invitation. I unwrap it. I open it. Small, Quiet, Still, and Simple are the gifts. Even the packaging secured in a french satin wired bow is exquisite. And save it as the treasure it is. I was caught and held, distracted. But it wasn’t always by the glory of the tender gifts. Often I looked over, past, beyond, and through. Is this abundance? Is this fullness?

Is this a passionate and exuberant yes to the invitation to enter into the small wonders, the stillness, and quiet that God lavishly offers? Into those places where we meet him and hear Him. Touch holy and sacred. Live struck by how much He loves us. And rest in this truth.

And so there is a sweetness to the redemption of seeing through this lens. A clearer, cleaner lens. In learning and relearning to be a better neighbor to the world. Isn’t redemption always sweet? Doesn’t this grace of being changed always feel like mercy? There is something sacred about meeting time, resting with time, and rubbing wrinkly elbows with the seeable that presents itself in holy moments. We can grip glory, taste and see glory and experience glory. The invitation is there. For the unwrapping. For the responding.

Yes is so easy. Yes is so hard. Both. And.

Image via @graceappears on Instagram

On Sunday I sat cross-legged in the grass in my back yard, lost in my own world, designing and planting more kitchen window boxes. The joy of playing in the ebony soil was sweet. I raised my head from my work to see a white bearded acquaintance saunter slowly up to me and my gardening project. A quiet and gentle man, he holds conversations with precision. Like a butter knife cuts through a stick of cool yellow, his words cut the air of quiet in my yard. I think, like all of us, he is a little lonely. Hungry for a friend and an easy conversation about chickens and lemon trees.

I pivot from my introvert self to my extrovert self. They wrestle with each other and I wrestle with my own selfishness. This will take awhile. This listening and accompanying him on his storytelling journey. But once I have turned even a little from me to another, accepted the invitation to be present as he talks, I am offered a simple gift. We were made this way. By God, to be relational. His stories are life-giving.

We are our stories. Our stories are us. When we enter into small, everyday encounters we are touched by beauty. And we always feel less alone.

He stayed a good long while on this Sunday. He spoke of blueberry bushes and fig trees and guinea fowl and clamming. He spoke of what he’d lost in the recent two hard freezes, the first and second freezes as we call them. And his long white beard couldn’t cover the soft smile that remained on his face during his “I just want to chat with you for awhile” visit.

I didn’t give him much, I passed the baton of hospitality to my husband for part of his visit. I went inside my home while he and my husband continued the conversation. I am selfish like that. But change comes. Even if it comes slowly. And somehow, I am learning much from every small interaction. To see it as an opportunity for love and kindness and learning. Rather than as a distraction or interruption.

Because while the yarrow blooming in my yard and the iris and radishes in my garden will stay rooted a little while for me to enjoy, the people in my life, they come and go. They enter and leave.

This is what matters. I am learning. I am learning slowly.

My neighbor on the other side comes and goes, usually arriving every weekend for the weekend with her husband. I have felt the sting of missing her. It was entirely my fault, as I have fallen into the grip of my introverted and private self, at the expense of building my friendship with her. So I gathered a dozen eggs and walked a few short paces into her yard. We chatted the way neighbors do, relaxed and easy and warm. The gnawing feeling was there, the one of conviction. That I don’t invest more.

I think the nudges are good. Kick the soul in the pants good.

The next day, she brought me a packet of zinnia seeds, dried and full of brilliant promise, ones which she had gathered from last year’s garden. And I felt wholer and less off kilter. We are made for this. This living in community. There is a fullness that comes from connecting, linking arms, trading stories and trading eggs for seeds.

It is something to behold, now. This being in the grip of glory. It is gripping me and I it. My neighbors are showing me how it is to live, both and. Quiet and awake to wonder, yes. But within a tapestry woven from threads of one to another.
I don’t want to be my own worst enemy or an April fool. I want to live as a child of God as I say yes. Yes to the invitations. All of them.

Elizabeth Marshall / Posts / Blog
Elizabeth Wynne Marshall is a writer, poet, blogger. A lover of grace & the sea she spends her days living and writing out the beautiful ordinary in a life lived by the sea. Her words may be found at her writing home, elizabeth w. marshall, poetry & prose through a lens of grace. On twitter & instagram, she is @graceappears.
  • Melissa Blair
    Melissa Blair

    I am certain we would make fun neighbors and best friends…right down to the radishes, irises and kicks in the soul pants. <3

    April 11th, 2017 7:28
    • Elizabeth W. Marshall

      Melissa, I am certain of your certainty. Love being your neighbor here, but with soil and a picket fence between us, that would be even nicer. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello. And for reading. Can I borrow a cup of Splenda? What a gift to have you at my door. And you have my permission to always and anytime give me a kick in the soul pants. We need to be held to account. Oh, I mean I need to be held to account. I appreciate that in friends. What a privilege to sit by you here at Grace Table. peace and grace, e

      April 11th, 2017 12:11

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