Thursday, 29 November 2012

Contentment

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"Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed" - Mary Oliver

Contentment is a funny thing to chase. It glimmers like sunlight amongst leaves and scatters when we least expect it. It dances across our eyelids, making us sigh and lift our faces to the sky, then it disappears quite suddenly behind a cloud and the more we try to seek it, the less it can be found.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about contentment, and the way it's lost and found.

All summer long I stared steadily at the things that I had no power to change, and felt discontent settle on my soul. I longed for joyfulness in the present and yet my mind was too mixed up in the future to truly see the goodness all around me.

And so, in an attempt to grasp happiness and clutch contentment, I spent September recording three beautiful things each day, just as I did in Lent.

Sometimes it was a struggle. Sometimes it was a chore. Sometimes I had to sit quietly with my eyes closed to pick out the beauty amongst all the busyness. But most days, when I sat to review my day, a flood of good things sprung into my heart and I had to squeeze my mind and force my hand to limit my list to three.

Since September, I've not recorded three beautiful things each day, but instead something unexpected has happened. I've stopped dwelling on the future or seeking happiness in a desperate sort of way. I've stopped tormenting myself with the things that I can't change and the decisions I can't yet make, and I've found a quiet peace in the present. The days pass in an easy roll. Beauty flashes in and out of focus before my eyes and sunlight dapples my days with random blessings, just as it ought.

It's a fragile and precious gift, this contentment, and so I hold it lightly, gently, unsure how I've happened across it and unsure how long it will last, but knowing that I must savour its sweetness for every second that it stays and understanding with a humble heart, that I need only stand where I am to be blessed.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Sparkling


It's hard to find words after a long stretch of silence. It's difficult to write about one beautiful moment when so many have passed by unrecorded.

Life lately has passed in a series of showers and sparks, and for weeks I've found neither the time nor the words to record them.

But suddenly, I feel the need to write, and instead of summing up or looking back or expressing deep thoughts about the past few months, I'll begin by simply sharing one little moment that sparkled amongst the blackness.

I'll tell you about the little bonfire that we lit in our garden and the serious concentration with which John gazed into its fiery heart. I'll tell you of the warm cranberry punch that we sipped whilst watching the flames dancing with the dark and the little enamel cup that sat alongside ours on the damp wooden bench.

I'll tell of the fiery magic of a sparkler and the way we hovered anxiously over our boy whilst he made bright trails in the night.

I'll write of the excitement that came of getting all wrapped up after dinner and running out into the blackness, the squeals of joy that sounded in the dark as John chose a firework from the box, the breathlessness with which he ran into my arms as James lit the taper and the wide wonder in his eyes as sparks shot up into the night.

And I'll promise you that this moment, which sparkled so visibly on a cold November night was just one of many sparkling moments that passed by unrecorded but left invisible fiery trails burned forever onto my soul.