In memory of G. Valmont Thomas – December 15, 1959 – December 18, 2017
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein
Focusing on what’s good.
As the year’s end approaches, I’ve been thinking about what’s good in my life, what’s right. It’s easy to identify the ways in which our lives fall short of our expectations. But can we see — really see — the treasures we possess?
I’ve thought about the people who love and care for me, day after day, year after year. I’ve thought about the beautiful bounty of the past twelve months – the dreams I fulfilled, the people I met, the places I went.
I’ve thought about the losses, too, but only in terms of my gratitude that I was blessed to even briefly know each and every person of my kindred kin who has crossed the river of death this year.
And I admit, I recognize what grace blooming in my life has done for me. I am filled with profound gratitude for every bit, every thread, every moment – even those that were painful or difficult or devastating.
We are only on this planet for a short time.
Compared to the millions of years that have passed on earth, human beings appear for only milliseconds, lifetime upon lifetime. We spark and fade as quickly as the universe snaps its fingers.
As I age, this becomes more and more obvious.
As a young woman, I may have thought I had unlimited time, but as each year shuttles past, it is clear that’s not the case.
We’re here and then we’re gone. And more often than not now, what seems most important is not how much stuff we’ve managed to amass, but what we’ve collected as memories, experiences, relationships, moments.
It seems like only yesterday, I was sitting next to my mom on the train over the Cascade Mountains on my way to Seattle for Christmas in 1966. It was the first time I’d spent Christmas with my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and cousins. The train was oversold and my younger brother and I had to take turns sitting on my Dad’s lap. Snow fell and I felt the wonder of being inside a living snow globe, white flakes falling steadily, bending the branches of the evergreens as we traveled from Eastern Washington into the Emerald City, as it would later be named. The train rattled and swayed. We ate bologna sandwiches and drank sodas from the dining car; we napped off and on, all through the night. The doll I got that Christmas sits in my bedroom, even now. We spent those holidays at my grandparents’ doll-sized house, snow on the ground, presents splayed under the tree. I remember the smell of cloves and ham roasting, and the sounds of laughter and conversation, late into the night. I remember the glow of my cousin Karen’s face while we played pick up sticks in the back bedroom.
I was six then; I am 57 now.
And those intervening years are nothing but a smear of color. I can see shapes and faces, I can remember graduations and funerals and weddings and birthdays. I can see my father’s ashes sinking in the waters of Puget Sound. I hear myself saying, “Oh, my god. Oh, my god. Oh, my god,” as I paced after the Sheriff told us he was dead.
My aunt’s in hospice now.
My uncle’s in assisted living.
My cousins’ children have children now.
My mom’s nearly 83.
We’ve buried countless pets – those perennially ephemeral beings – in countless backyards all over my home state, and countless relatives — sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, friends, colleagues.
I guess the point of all this is to remind myself that time is waning. Time is precious. Time is priceless.
So, turn off the endless stream of bad news polluting the airwaves. Walk away from anyone or anything that doesn’t value you.
We are each one of us, a gift that came to the world to open someone’s heart, or change someone’s life, or make something better, or alter the course of life from one of destruction and chaos to one of beauty and collaboration.
We are here to bring each other joy, wisdom, light. And yes, we must each open a little box of darkness, too.
So, in this season of light, strike a match and spark that flame within you.
We’ve got work to do.
However, for now, what we need most is to savor our lives and the gifts they bestow on us each day: a dog’s sigh, tears of relief, chocolate, a smattering of bright stars.
Another day. Another chance. And another after that.
Love, in all its luminous incandescence, has decided to let us go on, tumbling through our messy lives, awakening slowly to all we know; to all we’ve always known.
This is it, babe. This is all there is.
Let’s make it good.
#happychristmas #haveyourselfamerrylittlechristmas #loveeachother
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© 2017 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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