Living in the Moment, Purpose

Wonders Small and Large


Today is a day you send back in time. Your younger self needs a hint, however fleeting, that this day waits for her. She won’t know you’ve hand a hand in whatever traces across her skin. She won’t even know you’re here watching over. Even so, today and the other days like it twine their slender threads around her. Lift her gently from the vortex of whatever drain she’s circling. Help her break the surface.

When she’s found her breath and feet again, she’ll call it luck. Or coincidence. She’ll credit a friend’s arrival, a passage on a new page, lyrics she’s never heard just so. The meds. Her own grit. She won’t know you’ve transported the snapshot complete with its texture, its scent and fizz, to shiver through her senses. She’ll never know, not until later. Until now.

You’re okay with her ignorance. You only need her to stay alive for a little while longer. To reach you.

Because today, something happened. The pastor of your church asked to meet with you. He wants to nominate you to serve as the lay minister for membership and outreach. You, still just as much an atheist as ever, appreciate the irony. This opportunity thrills you. The large Unitarian congregation, your neighbors and friends, live for justice in action, for the democratic project, for a peaceful and healthy planet.

The place has been so close for so long, and you’ve finally found your way to its enduring welcome. In it, the builders of the beloved community.

In it, a You-shaped space for the best of what you bring.

Today, something else happened. Your supervisor mentioned that the other members of the leadership team support you taking study leave in the spring. You may be looking forward to three months of paid time off to pursue what compels you. The reasons you went into your field get lost in administrivia, in spreadsheets and timesheets and files stuffed with forms. For one brief window of time, you may set aside the busy work and return to your deep commitment. You can explore new ways to help students thrive while they grow as scholars and leaders. All you have to do is complete the application. The management team will advocate for it as it moves up the chain.

Today, other things happened too. Small things. You read over materials to prepare for a class you’re teaching. You made your boss smile twice on a day when she twice teared up from frustration. You ran at sunrise, you walked at noon, you mailed a letter to your son at camp. You jotted notes for a piece you’re writing on new approaches to the wellness wheel. You washed bathroom window and dusted the blinds. You started shopping for the party you’re hosting over the weekend.

These tasks seem small to you now. Mundane, even. Coursing back over the decades, their substance multiplies. They unfurl into minor marvels. To her, your younger self, such simple acts were improbable to the point of absurdity. They may not have even figured into the meaningful life she idealized.

These little machineries, these tasks and habits, they serve as anchors for the threads you send back across time. Fine but sturdy, the strands of days like today keep her from tipping back and away. They root her – for only a blink maybe, but root her nonetheless – to an awareness of balance coupled with purpose. They steady the gaze long enough for her to catch a glimpse.

In some story she hasn’t considered yet, she might inhabit such a day.

A day of wonders.

Like today.

When you don’t come anywhere close to a drain or a cliff. You don’t lose a single marble.

When you can start to feel your way forward.

Toward the future self who is almost certainly sending back a snapshot, scored with song and warm to the touch, of a tomorrow you’re only beginning to imagine.

Image: Joan Miro, Horse, Pipe, and Red Flower, 1920. From the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

5 thoughts on “Wonders Small and Large”

  1. glad there is some return in kind on your good works.

    We turned into the drive,
    and gravel flew up from the tires
    like sparks from a fire. So much
    to be done—the unpacking, the mail
    and papers…the grass needed mowing….
    We climbed stiffly out of the car.
    The shut-off engine ticked as it cooled.

    And then we noticed the pear tree,
    the limbs so heavy with fruit
    they nearly touched the ground.
    We went out to the meadow; our steps
    made black holes in the grass;
    and we each took a pear,
    and ate, and were grateful.

    Jane Kenyon, “Coming Home in Twilight in Late Summer”

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