Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Something that Grace Says

I’ve loved reading from the moment I learned how.  I’m often reading as many as five different books at a time, transitioning between them as my moods and needs change.  And then, sometimes, I get so “into” a good book that it gets my complete attention and all the others are temporarily put on hold while I finish it.

I’m reading one of those right now.  It’s called “The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton.  For all of you Downton Abbey addicts, this story might just tide you over as you await the next season (which, for many of you, is coming in January and for me, will be much longer).

The main character is an old woman named Grace, who served as a lady’s maid at a big house when she was young.  Grace has spunk and an independent attitude that reminds me of my grandma (yes, that’s you, GG--ILYTM). 

I could go on and on about this book, but you will enjoy the story immensely more if you just buy and read it yourself.

Instead, there is one short excerpt that I want to share and reflect on...  Grace is talking about how wars fool us into thinking that history has clear turning points--milestones that we can pin into place.  People say things like, “Before WW2, life was like this...”  “After the war, things were different....”  If Grace was a real person and I was chatting with her, I would point out that many events--not just wars--have that effect: 9/11, the fall of Osama Bin Laden, the iPhone...

Then, she says:
True history, the past, is not like that.  It isn’t flat or linear.  It has no outline.  It is slippery, like liquid; infinite and unknowable, like space.  And it is changeable: just when you think you see a pattern, perspective shifts, an alternative version if proffered, a long-forgotten memory resurfaces...
In real life, turning points are sneaky. They pass by unlabeled and unheeded.  Opportunities are missed, catastrophes unwittingly celebrated.  Turning points are only uncovered later, by historians who seek to bring order to a lifetime of tangled moments.

I’ve read and re-read those paragraphs over and over...

I think I agree.

Real life turning points ARE sneaky.  There are some you see coming--you think they’re going to be the ones that change everything for you: a graduation, a job, a baby, retirement.  Others blindside you with no warning, like getting fired or the sudden loss of a loved one.  But maybe we can’t accurately label the milestones of our lives until we’re much older and we have some distance from those events... Maybe it’s impossible to label them when we’re in the midst of them.

I wonder how I’ll classify this time I’ve spent in Haiti when I’m 92?  

I can tell you how I’m feeling day to day.  I can blog about the struggles.  I can describe the suffering, poverty and heartache I’m witnessing.  I can relate the joys and small victories (sometimes they seem ever so teensy). I can even share the sting of the lessons I’m learning--the chiseling God’s doing on my heart and soul.

But I can’t see from where I am the bigger picture--the wider imprint Haiti is leaving on the story of my life.  

How is it changing me forever?  What will never be the same for my family?  How is He going to use every bit of all of this to accomplish His will?  Where will I go from here?

Maybe you’re living through a turning point yourself right now.  Maybe you’re asking some of these questions, too...

Or, maybe this is all too deep for you because you’ve got cards to get in the mail, a Christmas shopping list that keeps growing longer, and cookies in the oven...

It’s getting late and I know I’m tired.  So, for now, I’ll try to quiet my brain and stop the swirl of questions and ponderings.  Maybe I’ve got enough energy left for another chapter or two with Grace.

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

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