"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Small



The checker was young, friendly, fresh-faced. She came to help me after I'd already unloaded my groceries onto the belt, apologizing for making me wait. While she scanned my spinach and oranges and baby food (old cats, I always point out), I studied her. 

The ring on her left hand ring finger caught my eye. Not for its size or beauty, but for the lack of both. A promise ring. Band so thin I couldn't tell whether it was silver or gold. Stone so small only the slightest widening at the center of the band indicated its presence. 

She seemed old to be wearing such a ring. A ring a high school boy might give his girlfriend - a promise based on meager resources and a heart not yet fully developed. I wondered. Considered asking about the ring. Wanted the story. 

Before I could ask, as she explained her delay waiting on me, she shared she'd been at another checkstand where the scanner wasn't flush with the counter. "Every time I'd scan an item, I worried I'd catch  my hand and maybe even lose my diamond," she said. 

Lose my diamond. That ring was clearly so much more than a sliver of a promise. It was a diamond, and all the permanence it symbolizes. Her pride was a glittering, glorious thing - reflecting a light only love-filled eyes could find in such a tiny chip of carbon. 

Such a small thing to bring so much joy. 

Yesterday when I was walking Toby, I came around the bend where God seems to be waiting for me on a regular basis these days. The inner tube of last week. Three eagles in the snag across the river the week before. One lone beauty posing in the sunlight on another day. 

On this day it was a young bald eagle, last summer's fledgling I'm guessing, flying directly toward me, maybe twenty feet above the river. Then, just in case I might have dismissed the gift, he swooped a gentle turn right in front of me and headed back the way he came. He might even have looked at me.

It was enough, that almost look and the perfect u-turn, to make me stop and offer a prayer of gratitude. A bit grudging, reluctant, resistant, still; but at least recognition and thanks. 

I've chafed myself raw against the little chips of grace and glory that have been God's presence in the last few months, wanting something that dazzles. Something significant enough for me to know without doubt I'm not as lost as I feel. 

On Friday my brother Mark directed me to the family Shutterfly site. Told me there was a video I needed to check out. There was a problem with the loading, so I didn't get to watch it until this morning. I anticipated it would be in some way connected to Angelwings Antiques, and I was right. What I didn't anticipate was that it was a gift of love created just for me:

A ten minute collage of the history of the antique business that is Mark's dream, but that we've built together in the last fourteen months. The accompanying music started with these Coldplay lyrics:
Look at the stars.
Look how they shine for you
In everything you do.
They were all yellow.

And ended with these:
Nobody said it was easy.
No one ever said it would be so hard.

Such a small thing to bring so much joy.

A bunch of pictures. Some beautiful Coldplay music. A thin band with a tiny chip of light to some. To me on this day, a miracle of love and generosity and understanding. I am seen and understood. I am dazzled, and for this moment at least, feel led by the warmest of yellow lights possible. Not quite found perhaps, but most definitely not abandoned either.

28 comments:

Retired English Teacher said...

All of this is just what you needed. I read recently that after trauma, and your daughter's death did indeed cause you trauma, we need to spend time in nature to heal.

God certainly seems to be waiting for you. You also must be waiting on Him in anticipation. I envy the sight of the eagle that you had. They are so majestic.

I understand that attitude where one feels like chafing against those gifts of grace. I wish I could be more grateful for the "tiny chips of carbon" that are in my life and see them as beautiful and priceless diamonds. Thank you my friend for reminding me to be grateful for the small things and not wait for those that dazzle.

You are amazing. Thank you for your lessons in life and faith.

DJan said...

This incredibly lovely post has touched my heart in ways you might not have anticipated. I felt the young woman's love displayed through her diamond, and the young eagle's flight path overhead. And then to hear of the wonderful gift just for you...

I am filled with gratitude for having had this elegant and poignant read. Better than anything I've read lately. Thank you.

Desiree said...

You dazzle with your exquisite words! Such a gift you are to all who are touched by your gentle prose.

Journaling Woman said...

You've heard the saying about not sweating the small stuff. And I agree, but,I think it's the small stuff that means so much to us because the "seemingly" small stuff is linked to love.

God is big. We are small. He loves the small stuff.

Teresa

Donna said...

Small things that are indeed big gifts. So many things in life are a small, meaningful gift. I had one in church today. A reminder that I need to stop sweating the little things that are unimportant and focus on the ones that are. Then I went to see my father-in-law who will celebrate his 91st birthday in April. I don't think he'll make it until then. All those long years of life and they go by so quickly. If only I live in the present and appreciate life to it's fullest always.
Thanks for another reminder so beautifully said.

yaya said...

So many words that are beautifully written. Thank you for sharing those thoughts and reminding me of the saying: "The best things in life aren't things"...I imagine that sweet check out gal will have much more love and happiness in her life with it's humbleness than a celebrity who has a million dollar wedding only to get out of it in a few weeks..however, enjoying all her pictures on magazine covers and not really missing a dime of what was spent. I think you have discovered the true meaning of what God's gifts truly are.

Mark Lyons said...

Your post brought fresh tears to my eyes. I'm glad that all of the little things are making a big thing in your life. Your words continue to be a powerful force in my life.

I love you
Mark

Barb said...

Well, to follow your brother in commenting (he now has me sobbing), is a gift in itself. Your stories today are poignant reminders that how we view "gifts" determines what they mean in our lives. (These Eagle sightings are a promise to you, Deb.) You dazzle me today!

B. WHITTINGTON said...

Wow. When I clicked on your post I didn't know I was in for such a beautifully written piece.
The emotion behind your words were palpable. I felt sad and happy all at the same time. Tears forming.
Nature, she never lets us down. And our own human nature often does.
Just know that you are being held up by people who care about you. Where would we be without the shoulders of all our friends to stand on.
God bless you. Barb

Wanda said...

Yeah. Like that. I am glad you are feeling the presents and Presence--even in the small things. I, too, want a BIG gift, a HUGE reminder. But sometimes small or subtle work, too. I wish you love and peace. Thanks for sharing your walk with me.

deborahjbarker said...

"More than a sliver of a promise" I love that line Deb. My engagement ring was bought on a student's shoestring. The diamond is there if you look very hard but the shiny casing makes it look larger than it is. I imagine it counts as a sliver.
A thoughtless friend once compared my ring to another that a mutual friend was newly sporting and found it sadly wanting. I didn't care, that 'sliver' was a promise that has grown over 32 years. The owner of the other ring? Divorced within the year... Thank you Deb for another thought provoking, gentle meander along life's lane.

kario said...

I hate it when I have to stand still and listen really closely to get my acknowledgement.

But I hate it more when those really big signs slap me upside the head. Those are usually the ones telling me to stop and sit still and listen.

I am so glad you are receiving the gifts that are coming your way. So often, all it takes is for me to open up the damn door a bit and I'm amazed at how much light streams in that little slit of air.

Love you.

Richard said...

A thoughtful post that resonates with everyone.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb,
It is your postings that are dazzling. The lyricism of them, the descriptions, the intuitions you share, the realizations, the grace--all together they leave me, often, breathless.

You have so much to write about. A collection of the postings you've done since last spring or early summer, when you realized you'd need to return to teaching, would be a wonderful book about letting go of our need to control and accepting that possibility bids us take a different road--perhaps to the same destination.

We both know it is the journey that matters. And your ability to describe that journey is exceptional.

Peace.

Stacy Crawford said...

The simple gifts are always the best!

I had one of those tiny chip rings to start our marriage. I've upgraded since, but I understand the love-struck youthful marriage where the only thing that matter was him!

Have a happy week and know that God knows your personally and is aware of your every need. Enough to have an eagle "wink" at you.

Linda Myers said...

I love it when I come upon a new post from you. Thank you for this one.

Sandi said...

I wasn't able to view the pictures, just go to the site, but bless Mark's heart for gifting you with something that lets you know you are " . . . seen and understood . . dazzled . . . led by the warmest of yellow lights possible. Not quite found perhaps, but most definitely not abandoned either."

I love the title of this post, reminding me of what I've really always known: it's the small things that mean the most. The glitz and glamour and eye catching are somehow appealing, but it's knowing eyes meeting yours or the caress of a loved one's hand, that touch us at the very core of our being and make us feel treasured.

Thank you for a beautifully written post that managed to slow me down tonight and be thankful for the small things I cherish, that I wouldn't want to live without.

I am so grateful for you, my friend. Know that you are never far from my thoughts and always in my heart.

Much love and hugs.

Ann Best said...

It's these "little" things that are so meaningful. This was such a beautiful post thatI hardly know what to say that wouldn't break the spell. I'm trying to be more grateful for such things and experiences that you so eloquently express here!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

Amber said...

" Her pride was a glittering, glorious thing - reflecting a light only love-filled eyes could find in such a tiny chip of carbon."--

lovely.

All this is beautiful.

:)

Angie Ledbetter said...

As always, a pleasure to read.

Kathryn Grace said...

Your post is gorgeously written as always, and speaks to me on a deep level as they so often do, and I'm struck by all the little ways you are receiving--and receptive to--the joy in everyday life. I feel hopeful, that your broken heart may be mending, the soreness easing, at last.

Many years ago, I went through such a winter. Years of such a winter, it seemed. I told a trusted adviser that I felt God had abandoned me. She said, Oh no, it isn't God who abandoned you. It is you who have abandoned God.

That puzzled me for a long time, but like you, I began to see Life and Hope in the tiniest moments. Slowly I thawed and saw more and more the abundance of happiness seeping out of every corner and cloud and moment, until eventually I realized I had passed that time of sorrow and entered a time of great love.

May something as wonderful become true for you.

Terri Tiffany said...

Awwww--I adored this post because it ministered to me as well--it's the missing encouragement I needed to see worth in today among the dark clouds. Thank you!!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

"Catbird Scout" has been included in this weeks Sites To See. I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.

http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2012/02/sites-to-see.html

Katie Gates said...

Beautiful, Deb.

And, hey, I want to see that collage! (The link you provided requires a password.)

Pam said...

I like the way the eagles are a comfort to you. They are magnificent in flight. I like this psalm also, and it seems relevant -
"If I ride the wings of the morning,
If I dwell by the farthest oceans,
Even there you hand will guide me
and your strength will support me."
Psalm 139:8-12
Beautiful post Deb.

deb colarossi said...

Oh Deb.
This was incredible. I don't even want to read the other comments because I want to remain in this moment.
Thank you .
A teary thank you.

And I wish you a million moments for ever.

deb colarossi said...

*forever

Jerri said...

Oh, my friend. Too much time has passed since I last read your writing. Always gorgeous, it has ripened into a juicier, even more luscious gift.

Some slivers are packed with grace. Last week when I was away on business, a neighbor moved my lime tree to a sunny spot and gave it some much-needed water. Every time I pass it now, that lime tree reminds me that I'm not as alone as I sometimes imagine. We never are.

Thank you for the reminder.