I create seasonal checklists to retain my sanity and some semblance of my identity. As a stay at home parent of a five year old and a four year old, I have found this to be the simplest way to not forget myself. This checklist isn’t things that I need to do, but rather anything I would like to do if I have a spare moment or simply need to feel like I am human. It hangs on my refrigerator and is there for me— not the other way around. The list might look like:
- Enjoy a glass of wine
- Have a phone date with _______
- Clean out the cupboards
- Learn something new
- Memorize a poem
- Visit Montana
- Hike the Appalachian Trail
- Try a new recipe
- Support a small business
- Walk a hundred miles
It is so fulfilling to check off a box— because it is what I want. It is crazy, realistic, hopeful, everything and nothing. And every season as I sit down to create my list, I always include “Witness Something Beautiful.” I have marked it off every single time and I think it is because I am looking. Today, I checked that box again.
I was walking over to my neighbors, to help her put on her socks, when I happened to walk under a tree and was lavishly rained upon with leaves. I paused and thought, “I didn’t witness something, I was apart if it.” Clear blue skies, golden leaves raining down, and I was in the middle. Cool. I continued on my path with a heart-full smile, finished the mission, and began the short walk back. I come to the same tree and as soon as I walk up to it, it begins to rain leaves again. A holy, irreverent moment ensued.
“OKAY! I get it! You are here and present! But you know what?!?!?” I began talking to God about how I know he is there and she is good, but I have all these unanswered questions, doubts, frustrations, anger, and heartache. And in the stillness between moments, I heard a reply and was given a gift.
Thomas Merton wrote, “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.” My faith has evolved so much since I made it my own 28 some years ago. I was sitting in a Wednesday night class when someone announced their decision to follow Jesus. I remember so clearly bowing my head and silently praying, “Uh Jesus? If that girls needs you, then you better get in here and change me cause I need you way more.”
My vision of who God was, was a simple cleaner upper of humanity. And sure, to a certain degree that is true. But as I have aged and ever so slowly matured, I have come to see that he is also okay with us being dirty. Wrestling in the mud with the hard stuff. He is okay with our doubts, our fears. God can handle our honest anger. Because we learn more about ourselves and therefore more about God when we do. When we ask the hard questions. When we wrestle with our humanity. When our hurt, pain, and anger overtake us. When our joy is complete, the cup is overflowing, and peace surrounds us. If we are willing to take the deep breath and explore the moment and all that moment involves, we can learn about who we are and who God is. If we are looking and listening.
And today, I was.