This is Finding 52’s second week of Graciousness, a topic intended to examine humility, but has challenged me with much more than simply how to stay humble. Grace is a true life changer….there be a storm comin’!
….said the girl who decided to grow and heal through blogging for 52 Weeks.
From the beginning, this blog has been dedicated to the memory of my dear mum, who lost her life to a brain tumour almost 25 years ago. When I realized I had lived more of my life without her than with her, I was saddened. When I realized I would soon be the same age as she was when she died, I was motivated! Finding 52 began 22 weeks ago to honour life, honour memories, and honour my desire to discover my best self before it is too late.
I guess I knew there would be tough bits. My old scars are hard to approach with softness, harder to examine without getting lost in their ugliness, and hardest to erase from existence, if this be my goal.
Just so happens, it is not my goal. My mission is to gaze directly at my hurtful past, go eye to eye with battles lost, to push through any stiff or rough areas in my life that are stagnate, where growth might be stimulated if given a chance.
It is similar to efforts mum put into our large garden on the farm. She and my dad worked hard to prepare a soil that would accept a variety of seeds given….worked harder keeping weeds and slugs at bay, giving fledgling sprouts a chance to grow strong….worked hardest to harvest and preserve a bounty of produce in sufficient quantity to feed our family. But this required more than hard work. Dreaming….imagining….planning….resting….were also part of a healthy annual cycle that always included celebrating and sharing their yearly crops with extended family and friends.
So many paths have opened up to explore this week, so many opportunities presented in which I could find myself extending Graciously toward my immediate relationships, and so many chances to test if Grace can actually be generated from mere humans, or if it only exists somewhere in the heavens.
For this occasionally grounded girl, it is a good reminder that true Grace cannot be earned or deserved. Grace is a gift of the giver, born from love and sacrifice, to which I may never attain an ability to understand completely. If Grace cannot be bought, sold, manipulated, or illegitimately manufactured, then I would like to immediately petition myself to stop running after approval, stop clambering for acceptance, and stop desperately clinging to sentiments of people’s praise. I want Grace so bad, I throw myself into a panic at the slightest glimpse of disapproval.
A glance from a colleague, a remark from hubby, a gesture from one of my kids and I convince myself to instantaneously adjust, conform, align, obey….and do it with a sweet, loving smile on my face. This is one depiction of how Grace unfolds in my world. It is a dangling carrot of worthiness, an elusive brass ring of making everyone happy. I chase breathlessly toward an end that does not come, and has not ever shown up, despite my efforts.
Another way Grace weaves its way into my awareness is through a ‘screenplay’ version of my life. I have one small confession to make, before going any further. Being quite drawn to the dramatics for most of my life, I often pretend to be a film character while performing daily, routine functions. I invent complex plots and subplots, support tension mounting in just the right quantity, and me….the star at centre stage….saying her lines with accurate and precise attention to blocking, often enacting something heroic or emotionally brave, for my eager and loyal, 24/7, 360 degrees audience.
Many great film characters have been my favorites to imagine, enacting them over and over in my mind….”Scarlett O’Hara” in Gone With the Wind, “Holly Golightly” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Inigo Montoya” in The Princess Bride….I have every line, look and hook memorized, and use them at befitting moments to entertain whoever might be watching….even if it is only me….watching me….in the mirror. 🙂
Now that’s a great confession! But does it get me closer to understanding what is necessary in order to grow the kind of Graciousness I deem valuable? I mimick characters for their noble pride, unfailing hope, eternal optimism, unwavering strength….mostly to prepare for my long awaited, leading role in the romantic comedy of my life. But if I strip away the romance of that dramatic notion, the Graciousness I borrow from fake characters and unrealistic scenes, falls short of delivering real Grace when I need it.
For a while, my actual life looked like a ‘B’ rated movie of the week, ‘based on a true story’, where viewer discretion needed to be continually advised! It was definitely not glamorous, not good, and too phony to keep pretending it was real, so where does this lead me?
Perhaps back toward the farm garden….
I can feel both feet dangling from my high perched tree branch spot, watching the garden work going on below, smelling grass clippings from my older brother operating a riding mower, and having a sense of wonderment of all that surrounded me. There were birds aloft, insects crawling close, leaves rustling freely, clouds curiously floating, all drawing my imagination to a heightened awareness of now….of this….of life.
Last week, Grace got Gritty, just like gardeners do when dirt needs digging. This week, I think Grace can only grow by planting seeds. Next week, I anticipate doing some weeding and thinning. Then, for the fourth and final week of Graciousness, I hope to have an incredible harvest to share.
So what seeds are worth planting if you want to produce Graciousness?
I was timeless in that tree. My future ‘self’ imagined, by anchoring into the ‘me’ living….now.
Grace Seeds start with: Living in the Moment, Hoping for the Future & Being Present
Simple, were the delights in that tree. Birds, insects, leaves, clouds, all nothing….all everything.
Grace Seeds grow with: Contentment, Stillness, & Wonder
Mum made gardening a priority. We worked as a team. Our food tasted so good, making us healthier and happier.
Grace Seeds thrive on: Cooperation, Family Traditions, & Celebrations
These are what I believe to be important ingredients for Gracious living. No Hollywood screenplays, no chasing down phantom shadows of acceptance. I need to get rooted and still. The ground around me will shake as it is being tilled….turned over….will threaten to pull me apart by an un-survivable storm. Being a tiny seed of possibility, I fall prey to becoming ripped up by chronic winds of hurricane magnitude; displacing me, dishevelling me, maybe almost drowning me, yet begging me to grow despite my circumstance.
A seed only has two jobs. Waiting. Growing.
If I am currently in the eye of a personal tornado….family issues abound, close relationships being regularly strained, demands for my energy and time at a premium and still somehow….
There. Is. Calm.
…then I trust there will be enough time for me to grow. If I choose to wait, I might miss my chance to wonder. To hope. To be present. To celebrate. To cooperate. To feel the ground tremor as the other side of the storm approaches, but it will not recognize me.
No longer a stray seed, blown about, intimidated by convulsing gales….I am a tree….strong, rooted….willingly surrendering my seeds to get swept away to their destiny of whether to wait or grow.
May we all find our destiny of Grace!