Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days in which I Am Saved by Beauty - Day 29

I find myself being saved by beauty 
in interesting and various ways of late. 
On Thursday night, in answer to an invitation
from a friend, I hosted a table
at the fund-raising event for our local
Young Life organization.
I was never a part of Young Life as
a student and neither were any of my kids.
But I believe in the work they do,
and I especially believe in 
what our local leadership is doing.
This was the first time I had seen the 
new area director in action.
And let me tell you,
this woman is a ball o' fire.
Her name is Tanita.
She is beautiful in every way I can think of,
exuding the love of Jesus with every breath.
The youth of this city are in very good hands, indeed.

Then on Friday evening, after a difficult phone 
conversation with my increasingly confused mama,
I took a walk.
Bent over in frustration and worry,
I cried out for patience,
and forgiveness,
and deep reservoirs of love.
And then I looked up.
And this is what I saw:
the mountains glowing pink,
reflecting the setting sun.
And the full moon rising,
shedding its quiet light over the landscape.
Sometimes a quiet light is what is needed.
Just enough illumination for the next step,
the next curve in the road, 
the next smooth space to put your foot. 
I'm not sure I want to look very far down
the road ahead for my mom.
I think it's going to get increasingly rugged
and difficult and 
a little moonlight
will be just about right. 

As I rounded the driveway and headed away 
from the reflective hills and the rising moon,
I was struck by another view:
this strong, clear silhouette against the dying sky.
Three tall, straight Washington fan palms,
three shorter, sturdier date palms --
quintessential California sentries.
I love them. 

I have not always loved them.
Growing up, I thought they were strange,
sort of purposeless, actually.
Where was the shade?
Where were the finely shaped leaves? 

Somehow, I grew into them. 

I love the rustling sound they make
in the evening breeze. 

I love that birds of all varieties
make their home buried at the 
bottom of those massive fronds. 

These trees speak to me of my own history,
driving to my grandmother's house,
across concrete roads with asphalt stripes,
clickety-clack, clickety-clack,
every street lined with one variety or another. 

They speak to me of warm, sunny days
and cool, soughing midnight stirring.
They speak to me of continuity,
of presence,
of stability. 

They are long-lived and impervious to drought.
They don't burn easily, either. 
In fact, it's really hard to get rid of them
once they're in place.
We have an upstart next to our backyard shed,
and the fire department is suggesting
we eliminate it.
It breaks my heart,
even though it's one of my
least favorite varieties. 

I think maybe I need these reminders of longevity
around me right now.
Life can seem fleeting when
you watch your parent slowly disintegrate,
when you see ones you love struggling with
debilitating, life-altering disease,
when you hear the years
creaking in your own bones as you move. 

So I say thank you for palm trees,
and night skies,
and full moons,
and family history.
I say thank you for young women,
picking up the slack,
carrying the torch,
loving Jesus and pouring love into others. 
I say thank you for beauty,
in the world around me,
in the people I meet,
even in my own faltering love for my ailing mom.
Because all of it. . .
every bit of it,
reflects a Beautiful God,
the One who stirs in me,
in all of us,
this longing for beauty --
anywhere and everywhere we can find it.
It is that longing that speaks to
the imago dei within.
It is that longing that leads us to Love.

Joining this reflection with Michelle, Jen, Ann, Laura and Laura - with deep gratitude for their faithful invitation to keep community growing.

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