It has been a long spring. Long in its continuous beauty and it’s on and off again rainy and sunny weather. Today we are getting one of the rainy ones but not before I got to race up to the lake for a June 1 swim. I cannot believe sometimes that I have been planted here. Where else would I find such a sweet village community, an ecumenical church, a river, a lake nearby, and close enough for the grands to come to visit? As we churchy folks like to say “God is good. All the time. God is good.”
Yet sometimes life does not feel so good and sometimes it is hard to find God’s footprint. And sometimes the rainy days of our lives outweigh the sunny ones.
This spring I have encountered, in my own life, and in the life of more people than I can count, a level of stress and sorrow and health challenges that seems to be over the top. Maybe it is because of my age. Maybe it is because of the pressures in our world. Maybe because I am more awake to notice it. I don’t know the why of it all but I do know that hardship abounds in this part of the world. And I know that this part of the world, as beautiful as it is, is not unique.
And yet…This week I heard from one of those suffering friends and what I heard has been on my mind. My friend is a pastor in a neighboring town. Seemingly out of the blue, because who really knows how illness erupts when we are not expecting it, his heart (not his emotions but his literal heart) cracked open. One moment he was walking around feeling pretty darn good, working on his farm and tending his “flock” and the next moment he was flat on his back in the hospital, waking up to find a stent in that very heart. I was shocked to hear this and could only imagine how troubled he must be.
I sent him a note to let him know that I had heard of his heart trouble. This is what he said. “Thanks Marguerite. I’m doing well…The whole thing was one of life’s little surprises..but the whole experience was “laced with grace.” Thankful for supportive friends, like you, and community.”
Laced with grace. When what happens to us, the beautiful and the tragic, the sun and the rain, the grief and the challenge is imbued with something outside our control and overwhelmingly good. Like the people who came out of the woodwork to help Dorrie and I rehab the apartment house that we bought to help with the housing crisis in our town. Like the friends (not just Facebook but real friends) who sent love and encouragement and support to our daughter and son-in-law when our 5-year-old grandson (the one with brittle bone syndrome) broke his elbow. Like the community that comes out to pastor the pastors. Like what happens when we break and fall down and in that fallen down condition, find God sitting by the bedside.
I do not know yet just how grace laced my pastor friend’s heart surgery experience but I know that my life is totally laced with grace and love and surprise. Season in and season out we are held in a graceful, lacy, tensile strong web of Love. This grace does not need us to notice it at all. And yet…when we do, we get to see that it is shockingly beautiful.