For three years, I had the privilege of working alongside a warm, joyful woman from Honduras. She helped me run a tiny gardening business. Really, I should say, she ran the gardening business and I was mostly a transporter and translator. She brought energy, strength, and determination to her work every day.
I would often be busy in the early mornings, planning our projects and throwing tools in the truck. I would send her a text saying when and where to meet that day and everything we had to do. Without fail, she would reply, every single time, asking me how I was and how I had slept and how I woke up. And whenever we met in person she would always greet me with a big smile and hug (back when we were able to do that kind of thing).
Gradually, I noticed this pattern and decided to make a conscious effort to always first check in. It took me a while to unhook my automatic thought process when I saw her that made me want to say right away that we have things to do and we have to get started. But, eventually, I learned this new way of interacting and at our first point of contact every day, no matter how many things were circling in my mind, I always made a point to first ask how she was and give her a hug and then listen to her response.
In a similar way, I realized that whenever it came time to say goodbye, I would always say something connecting us to some point in the future. Something like, “well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I always wanted to reinforce that we would see each other again, that there was going to be a continuation of our relationship later on. And every single time, again without fail, she would reply, “God willing.”
Planning on the future in the present was a hard habit to break. I’m still not super successful at stopping myself from doing it. But eventually, most of the time, instead of saying, “see you next time,” I would say, “thank you for your work today.”
I’ve been thinking lately about the ways of interacting that we become habituated to in our hyper-independent, success-driven, fragility-hiding American culture and, on the other hand, the quiet call as Christians for constant, moment-to-moment remembrance of God’s miracles.
Instead of thinking about all of the tasks we need to cross off our list, when we first see someone each day we can remember the miracle of their existence. We can spend time appreciating that miracle by looking them in the eye and asking them how they are.
And every single time that we part, we can remind ourselves again of this miracle of existence by remembering that each day is a gift and nothing is guaranteed. We may not have another time together but we have this time right now, this moment. And we appreciate that miracle by remembering that all of this is given to us by God’s grace.
Remembering the miracles that we get to participate in isn’t always something that requires lots of time or ceremony. Sometimes it can just be about stopping to say to someone else, wow, you’re a person who is alive! I’m a person who is alive too! Can you believe we get to be here together and part of this amazing creation right now!? (Or we can say it in ways that aren’t quite so direct.) And we can do that instead of being busy or worrying or letting any of the other bright, shiny objects that are calling for our attention get in the way.
I don’t read as much as I would like, but I often flip through a stack of books of poetry and one of my favorite poets is Rumi. At the end of his poem called, The Seed Market, he wrote:
A perfect falcon, for no reason,
Has landed on your shoulder,
And become yours.
These few lines capture well the idea of this miracle of existence that we get to experience every day. Really for no good reason, we have been given this miracle of life. Of being a part of the wonders of creation. Of being God’s children. Of knowing God’s presence. Of being witness to all of God’s miracles. And that incredible gift is here with us always for us to treasure in every moment if we but stop to turn our heads and notice it.
by Dianne Garcia, Pastor of Family Ministry