Today I am lying in bed since the sore throat I thought I'd kicked a few days ago has returned. The weather has cooled 20 degrees, so my windows are open, and the music of dozens of happy birds is floating into my bungalow. As I rest, I'm thinking back over the elephant-ridden events of the last few weeks.
Normally, when I reflect on a period of difficulty my spirit slowly deflates from the heaviness of the not-so-distant trials. But today, instead of looking back and seeing deep elephant footprints scattered across the month of May, I see a number of small, delightful moments hanging in the loft of my memory, like pearls on a string.
I've been working hard the last few weeks to notice and thank God for the good, quiet gifts in my life. I notice the sun shining through my window and warming my back while I sit on my bed and eat coconut ice cream.
I notice the feathery leaves outside my window, quivering in the breeze and gilded with sunlight.
I notice the wispy clouds on the horizon that look as if they have been painted with the same opalescent light that coats the inside of an abalone shell.
I notice the way the sunset turns the abalone clouds into a glowing sandstone sky that would make the Citrus family proud. A banner of tangerine atop a banner of lemon atop a banner of grapefruit. I wouldn't mind eating a spoonful of that citrus sky.
|Layers of sandstone|
I love that May's gifts are more impressed in my memory than the elephant tracks. Because I am great at seeing elephant tracks. I am great at talking about elephant tracks. I am great at remembering elephant tracks. It is unusual for me to look back on an elephant stampede and see something other than elephant tracks. So this pearl-filled remembering must be a gracious gift from God. I'll take it.
Here's the thing about gifts: they are always best when they are shared. So for the rest of May I'm going to try to share with you, daily, one of life's quiet gifts. Today, I give you my first gift — one of many pearls on my life string:
Last night I walked to my neighbor L's house an hour before sunset. "Hello!" I greet her when she opens the door. "I'm looking for a walking buddy. Do you want to join me?"
"Sarah!" she exclaims. "Come in honey; sit down." She ushers me to her black leather couch and then settles into her recliner. "I had a miracle happen and I want to tell you." So with excitement in her voice she fills me in. I'd tell you, dear reader, except it's not my miracle to share. ;)
L is lovely. If you met her you'd notice that her smile is bright and welcoming, and she is full of life. She's almost 40 years older than I am, but I could never call her elderly. She's too young for that.
I've only known L for a couple of months, but she's already a great friend. We understand each other, in part because she's struggled with some health problems with which I can identify. When I first got sick I never anticipated how my chronic illness would help me understand the physical limitations and accompanying grief that so many older people experience. I'm grateful for the many friendships this illness has helped forge. And I'm grateful to have a walking partner with whom I can enjoy meandering evening treks through the hills.
About 45 minutes into our conversation we look out the window and see the sun sinking behind the mountains and into the sea. Startled at how quickly the evening is slipping away, we hop up and L runs to the back room looking for walking shoes.
"The West Nile virus is bad this year, honey" she calls from the back room. "I don't want you to get bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito; why don't you wear something of mine to cover your bare arms?" She emerges from the bedroom holding a white, long-sleeved button up shirt with polka dots and frills. I smile and put it on over my Nike dry-FIT top while she slips a similar shirt over her sundress.
"Don't we look fit to kill," she says dryly. Then she throws back her head and chortles. I giggle with her and we look down at our outfits. They are rather eccentric. But it is eccentricity that will likely keep the West Nile Virus at bay, so we embrace it.
Moments later we're walking down the street, our eyes glued to the horizon. The sky is on fire. We murmur about the cotton candy clouds above us and the lava light in front of us. We stop every few feet to take pictures, but the photos don't do the sky justice so we shrug and keep walking.
Once the sky's fire has reduced to quietly burning embers, we head back to L's house, walk into the kitchen and take off our long-sleeved shirts. "Let me send you home with some soup, honey," L says before I move toward the door. She dishes up a container of cream of celery soup that is, surprisingly, void of all of the foods to which I'm allergic.
"Here you go!" She hands me the soup and I step out the door. "Hurry home, honey," she calls as I'm closing the door. "Make sure no mosquitos bite you!"
I smile and step into the twilight.
Sandstone image credit: fineartamerica.com© by scj