Thursday, October 25, 2018

twenty-seven blessings

It is easy, in the midst of noticing what's wrong (a lot!) what is upsetting (legion) and what is potentially hurtful (don't get me started) to forget to notice what is actually, objectively, and indisputably good.

- This morning, the light was bright. And I know "bright morning light" is an unholy cliché. But there's a reason that sub-par poets praise it. The world shines sometimes when there are no clouds in the morning. When the brightness of morning rises over the river, or over any body of water, it's even better. Because the water shimmers and glimmers and becomes part of the sky the way that water is always part of the sky but more so.

- This morning as I got into the shower I looked at my body, which for at least the last half of the twenty-seven years I have lived has looked foreign and strange to me, has looked like something that belongs to someone who is not me. It has been something I avoid looking at if not to find ways in which it can be improved. But this morning it greets me, as I step into the bath, like it is returning from somewhere far away: it is mine again and I love it. It is not easy to love what is not in your control—bodies are hard to love in this way.

- After the run in the bright morning light, my hip started to hurt with a stinging pain like this summer's, but more so. I sat in a coffee shop drinking a pleasantly acrid almond milk latte, and felt my hip join complaining every which way underneath me. The internet was on the fritz so I was using my cellphone as a hotspot, while on a video call for work, while feeling like a small crab was pinching six different tendons in my leg—but the cheddar apple scone I selected on a whim was not dry. It is an absolute law of nature that coffee shop scones, whatever their flavor are consistently as dry as tacks and this one was not dry. It had the slightly damp, pillowy consistency of my mother's famous cream scones. A sufficiently moist scone covers a multitude of sins.

- At the Cabrini Shrine in Upper Manhattan, the sanctuary is covered with beautiful mosaics of Mother Cabrini's life, surrounding the rather startling image of her body, in a Sleeping Beauty-esque casket that displays her body.

After Communion, the priest burst into song: a song of praise that just poured out of him as effortlessly as a response. It is simply joy. The priest who burst into How Great Thou Art after communion and harmonized with the music brought me joy.

I remembered in the midst of singing that I do not need to have all the answers. I am asking the same questions I asked at twenty-six: where to love and who, and I do not have the answers. But the questions should make you sing.

- I walked out of the Cabrini shrine and called The Insurance Lady—I think her name was Holly. She was one of those people who really does ooze Christmas. The sun was shining, and sometimes Washington Heights right below Fort Tryon is so utterly charming, you want to just pinch its concrete sidewalk cheeks. I walked to Uptown Garrison, walked inside and went to use the bathroom—it's one of those bathrooms they call a water closet. And now you have the perfect image of the sort of place that Uptown Garrison tries to be. Not what it is, though.

I walked out of the bathroom and saw Domenic. If you have ever seen a face you did not expect but always expect in a place you did not expect, then you will know the sort of joy that kind of surprise brings. It is trinitarian, really: to expect and be met is perhaps the closest we come to God. The trick is that you have to always extend your expectation—that is exhausting, risky, and inevitably will be painful. You have to do it (expect and anticipate and desire), otherwise half the joy of someone showing up is robbed.

- He showed up with a Levain Cookie. Those things are my favorite.

- I spent much of the day in pain, in stress, or being stymied in my attempt to get done all the tasks that needed doing. But, there were just these few small moments that reminded me that there are many people who bring many gifts into our lives. And often they bring them gingerly—they are not quite sure what they're doing there either.

But, in the thick of all the sunny Thursday stress, I realized: there is so much of the world that needs to be embraced. You can feel it, a vacant sort of gap in need of love. And really, all I want to do is pick up each piece of it, hold it close to my heart, and love it back into itself—strong, beautiful, and whole.

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