the holy beautiful of right now

The sink is piled with crusty bowls from breakfast and crumbed plates from dinner. Four loads of laundry sit in the silent dark of our upstairs bedroom, waiting to be folded. Piles of Legos cover the coffee table. Two decks of cards are scattered across the living room floor. Half-broken crayons line the kitchen baseboard. Three pairs of boots are flung by the back door in a snowy heap.

And somehow it is beautiful.

I do not see it always. I do not see it often. But there is wild breathing beauty all around me. I cannot escape it in any cluttered corner. I fell in love with a boy in college; we got married on a bright blue day in July; now three more people exist in the world because of us. This strange stunning truth brings me to my knees.

Children plaster our walls with art, hide surprises in our shoes, throw their dirty socks over the balcony even though we’ve told them a thousand times not to. They tumble out of their chairs at dinner because they laugh so hard, and they run around screaming with glee whenever we chase them before bath-time. They tackle each other with hugs and loud-whisper naughty words in each other’s ears, and when all three stop to grin at each other, I feel like my humble heart could actually explode out of my chest.

Right now might be the most beautiful time in my life. And if I don’t notice now, I won’t remember later.

Sometimes I think all my problems are blessings. Too much good work, too many people to love and care for, too much living packed in too few hours. One day there will be quiet and peace and calm control once again, but there will never be the messy, joyful, puzzling delight that is right now.

There is holy beauty in this: a heart and mind filled to overflowing.

So I try to let myself stop. To see, smell, touch, feel, breathe it. All I can do – maybe all that any of us can do – is witness. Notice and delight in whatever goodness, whatever God-ness is thick around us, even in the midst of the heartbreak that is living in this mortal world.

I know tonight my children will wake me from sweet sleep and tomorrow they will drive me batty with whining and every day this week I will likely lose my temper. But I will never once take this grace-filled life for granted.

It is the humblest, holiest gift I have been given.

. . .

“Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently. God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything — in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that He is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him. You cannot be without God. It’s impossible. It’s simply impossible. The only thing is that we don’t see it. What is it that makes the world opaque? It is care.”

– Thomas Merton

inspire your spirit (great websites): picturing God

You know the days. You’ve had them, too.

(I’ve been having too many of them lately, hence the lack of recent postings ’round these parts.)

The days when all you see around you are piles of dirty dishes, heaps of laundry, stacks of bills, messes of toys. The days when email and voice mail and children are all whining for your attention. The days when distraction and disorder reign supreme.

The days when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and you shudder at the wild-eyed, disheveled soul who glares back.

It was a day like this when I stumbled upon a beautiful website while doing research for work. Picturing God: Faces and Traces of the Divine is an oasis of calm amid the internet’s frenzy, a place of prayer amid the online babble.

The website, run by Loyola Press, is exactly what its name suggests: a collection of photos submitted by readers that illustrate glimpses of God. Many are stunning landscapes or skyscapes; other are places or people with spiritual significance. Some are exotic; others are everyday. Certain photos look professional; most are decidedly amateur. They are both simple and spectacular.

But each daily selection has such depth and conviction and beauty behind it. I love that people saw God in that instant, were moved to capture it, and inspired to share it. The world would be a better place if we all woke up each morning with eyes open to find God in the places and faces around us.

Seeing each day’s photo and reading its description have become God moments in my own day. They slow me down and remind me to see. They give me hope that beauty and peace can still be found all around us. They remind me that the world is full of seekers and soaked with the divine.

And on frenzied days like today, my mothering spirit needs that reminder.

Here’s my* glimpse of God for the day. What’s yours?

*My amazingly talented sister-in-law snapped this shot, so I can take no credit. But hey, recognizing others’ talents is a glimpse of the divine, too, right? And the beauty of baby ears…sigh.