Yesterday morning as I was out walking our Jack Russell, Auggie, I was gifted with the sight of one of those beautiful sunrises. The sky was on fire, red and orange, shining through the darkened clouds. Walking by the homes that lined the street the sunrise light was reflected making them shine brightly in the early morning. A light more wondrous than any of the artificial Christmas lights that hang limply along the eaves of the houses as I pass them by. It is on these early walks that I can take time to reflect on the wonders that are all around, I hear the calls of the early morning birds as they chatter away in the woods and fields, the scurrying around of squirrels looking for acorns that have dropped to the ground. Off in the deeper woods, the cry of a coyote and the screech of an owl, reminders that we humans have yet to fully contain the energy of the natural world. Today, I looked at the calendar and realized that I am now at the 200th day since I was hit by that car door. Yesterday was not the best day, the hip, which I had hoped would be much improved, has seemed to hit a plateau. Then, out of the blue, I just about blacked out. There I was brushing my teeth, when I bent down to get the mouthwash when suddenly all went dark and I began to experience that nightmarish, slow descent onto the floor. Now, I’ve had the vertigo, that wonderful moment when you’ve got the bed spins and your whole world feels like a merry-go-round out if a Stephen King novel. This was different, I just went out, like switching off a light, no spinning, no warning, just darkness. Once I was firmly sitting on the bathroom floor and beginning to realize what had happened, I began to think that maybe I was a bit dehydrated and so after a bottle of Maine’s best, water that is, I began to feel a bit better then I spent the day drinking copious amounts of water. To say the least, I haven’t felt that sensation again and I’m hoping I don’t anytime soon.
This incident and the continued hip soreness has kind of gotten me down. Combined with the usual end of year stuff that is the church, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Pledging, budgets, lack of resources, getting the Christmas pageant going, looking for folks to help, well you can guess the rest. Christmas, that time of joy, little cherubs singing quaint Victorian Christmas Carols and the usual chaotic, frenzied people all out there trying to get that perfect gift or prepare that perfect dinner, has just seemed to lay a bit heavier on me than usual. My heart is not in it, not as much as I would like it to be, but then again, for many Christmas is a difficult time of year.
It’s in these moments that someone or something speaks to me in a new way. Yesterday, when I seemed to need that something it came wrapped in a song by Richard Shindell, Northbound 35. It was actually the words of the refrain that caught my ear:
“Mustang horses, champagne glasses
Anything frail anything wild
It’s the price of living motion
What’s beautiful is broken
And grace is just the measure of a fall.”
Grace is just the measure of a fall, hit like a dart to my soul. Grace, that seemingly ever elusive gift that doesn’t come with fancy bows or pretty wrapping paper, but comes when we are indeed broken. As I move forward I am discovering that this accident did more than just break my hip, it has caused a ripple effect throughout my being. My vulnerability, something many of us would rather not admit to, has been exposed and opened up, a deep chasm in which I look down into infinite darkness. Yet, Grace shines through that darkness and although I have many miles yet to travel and the chasm is deep somewhere within me is the resilience and faith to continue moving forward. In a strange way, the eyes of my heart have been opened to seeing that gift in even the most everyday things that surround us. The colorful burst of reds and oranges of sunrise as it glimmers on homes, to the sounds of birds chittering away in the branches and trees, to the love of family, the gift of grace, wrapped in the ordinary and yet fully extraordinary.