Small Graces

When I landed on #seethegood as a “word” of the year, I had no idea just how appropriate it was going to be. I thought I was just choosing it because I tend to get gripey about ordinary life and stressors. I had no idea this was God giving me a heads-up that we were headed into a year that broke every mold. Preparing me to cope with it.

All the memes about murder hornets and cats with laser eyes are funny because it really does feel like we’re standing under one of those dump buckets they put into pools now, we just didn’t know it.

I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately, bent down under the weight of the toxicity of social media and the unrelenting bad news and micro-aggressions (and macro, for that matter) against human dignity permeating the news.

This weekend, a friend reminded me of my commitment to #seethe good in 2020. Yes, there’s a lot of bad stuff going on, but there’s a lot of good too.

I needed that reminder. In the early days of the shutdown, with nothing to focus on except the present moment, I was really aware of the need to keep focused on the blessings–and I did.

But the increasing toxicity of online interactions–making wedge issues out of a pandemic, followed by the horrific response of a scattered few to the demands for racial justice, plus some things that have happened within Catholic circles in recent weeks, have really worn me down. It’s been hard to focus on anything but the feeling that we’re galloping toward a precipice, and soon it will be too late to stop.

In recent weeks, I’ve been hard-pressed to find things to post about. The echo chambers are deafening on both sides of every issue, and I had nothing of substance to add. When I did, I found myself either ignored or ripped to shreds.

What has been lacking on social media (at least on my feed) has been the small beauties, the small celebrations, and it felt incredibly tone deaf to insert those into the entirely-justified righteous anger being communicated since George Floyd’s murder.

But I realize now I have to keep looking for and acknowledging those moments of grace, those snapshots of divine beauty. And I think everyone else needs those reminders that goodness is still there, like Sam Gamgee seeing the star that shines through the break in the clouds in The Return of the King.

So I’m going to devote Mondays to that for a while. To the small beauties, the intimate graces. Here’s my first offering: the first hollyhock to bloom beside my house, a reminder of my childhood and something I’ve wanted for a long time.

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