It was just after dawn on Sunday morning. I was washing raspberries at the kitchen sink, and thinking ahead to Monday.
My friend Paula had spent the weekend with us, and when she came into the kitchen, she startled me with her gasp.
“Jennifer!” she cried out. “Look. Look outside!”
I lifted my eyes to see what Paula saw, while the water kept running cold over my hands. It was my yard, my plain, ordinary, boring yard bordered by snow-covered farm fields.
Paula didn’t see boring. She saw beauty. She bolted out the door with her iPhone, to take pictures. It was a subzero morning, and she forgot to put on her shoes. Or maybe she figured she was about to step on holy ground. I can’t say for sure. But out she went, barefoot.
I turned off the water and stood stock-still at the kitchen sink.
Paula rushed back in, giggling this long stream of joy at her discoveries. She slipped on her shoes, and I watched out the kitchen window, from my sink. I watched how she ran across my boring yard, through snow and wind, running after beauty.
I felt tears spring up, and I was jealous for her eyes. She was like a child, chasing God in my yard.
When was the last time … ?
Sometimes I can’t see it. But there it waits: outside my window, under my feet, begging me to look. I have been burdened by the pain and suffering of people I love — in my own family, my church, my neighborhood. And I forget to see where the beauty still is. And it still. is. Beauty still is, stubbornly persisting despite suffering in our cold world.
I forget to look at the beauty of all that is. Even the coldest days are crammed with burning bushes, and the beauty of NOW. Yet I inhabit my tomorrows.
Emily Dickinson wrote that forever is composed of nows. How often I forget it.
How often I forget that the real geniuses in this life aren’t the people in ivory towers, with their names written on the spines of thick volumes. They are the people living in real time, instead of living fast-forward.
Sometimes, we need the eyes of a friend to help us remember to inhabit our moments, dwell in our nows, and touch the hem of heaven before we go to live there.
Sure. We can learn from our pasts, and we can make plans for our futures. But the only place to really live is now.
I’ve only begun to learn that beauty pops up somewhere between our hay bales and the sticky countertops and my Monday laundry piles.
We’re all being made whole in the simple, holy, ordinary moments, in these unpretentious places. We’re living the remarkable, in what some find unremarkable — and that’s where the burning bushes are. We’re taking out the trash, and making Powerpoints, and creating spreadsheets, and packing school lunches, and holding business meetings, and folding denim. And if we’re parents, we’re raising our miniature humans to be people of light in a world that can sometimes feel dark.
The moments that shape us are the moments that might never get noticed.
My burning-bush moments … They taste like maple syrup, and they put fresh fingerprints on my Windex-ed windows. My moments wake up before dawn, to stand next to me in the dark, whispering: “Can I sleep by you, Mommy?”
Our moments are out our kitchen windows, grabbing us by the hand, inviting us to take hold of forever by inhabiting today.
Forever is but a series of nows, extending out toward heaven.
I saw Paula, dwelling in the miracle of now.
And I stepped outside, barefoot.
Tell us about your holy ground. Where do you see a burning bush?