looking through me

Tag: wonder

slice of life

Five years ago, March 2012, I attended a writing workshop. I hadn’t written outside of grad school or work in ten years. I was excited . . . and nervous. Our assignment after the first session was to return the next week with a 350-word “slice of life.” I did, and I haven’t stopped writing since. To commemorate the gift writing has been to me these past five years, here is that first assignment that loosed the words inside of me:

With barely a glance at the clock I slip out of bed in the darkness. I pull on pants and a sweatshirt. Quickly I start brewing a pot of coffee, impatiently keeping one eye on the window. I carefully select my favorite mug and pre-pour the half-and-half. I don’t even bother to comb my hair. Grabbing my coffee in one hand and a blanket in the other I quietly slip out onto my balcony.

The sky is still middle-of-the-night dark. And it is quiet. No, it is silent. And still. Perfectly still.

I wrap the blanket around myself and slowly sip my coffee. The stillness encircles me with comforting fingers of peace. I feel the pent up tension and anxiety lessening as I study the dark eastern sky.

And then I see it: the first glimmer of grayish pink sneaking around Sunrise Mountain. For more than an hour I lean on my balcony railing and watch the sky proclaim the sun’s arrival. I can’t take my eyes off the masterpiece as the colors shift and intensify. The first birds of the morning joyfully pierce the silence.

The remnants of my coffee have long since grown cold, but for the first time in weeks—maybe months—I feel calm.

Nothing’s changed. The feelings of failure at work still lurk on the outskirts of every thought. The fear I’m more of a disservice than a service to my students is inescapable. The questions still outnumber the answers. Every circumstance is the same as it was while I futilely tried to sleep just hours ago.

Yet, everything has changed. The One who ushers in the morning in such easily-missed majesty is here. I breathe deeply. The sky is quite ordinary now, but my soul is settled. The God of the sunrise is the God of the everyday.

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spring is coming

One foot out the backdoor I heard it. I squinted into the early morning sun—I couldn’t see it—but it was there. A hummingbird.

Later I left my desk for a quick walk. I’d timed it poorly, students spilled out of classes from every direction into the mid-morning sunshine. As I wove through the crowd, a monarch butterfly swooped and danced with all its gravity-defying glory before me. It fluttered across my path a few more times over the next hundred yards oblivious to the human hurry.

I veered onto a less populated path energized by spring’s tantalizing nearness. Even so, I increased my earphones’ volume to drown out the cars pulling into the parking structure I was skirting, but a sound cut through podcast and echoing engines alike. My feet stopped and my head swung to the left: a belted kingfisher perched on a bare tree branch on the far side of the creek.

I reached for my phone to take a picture—I only took my eyes off the bird for a second—and when I looked back the branch was empty.

But before I could search further, my phone rang. I resumed walking as I finalized a change to my car insurance with an agent a time zone away.

It’s how it happens, isn’t it? Glimpses of beauty flash before us, teasing our senses, interrupting the noise of the everyday. I caught three, but how many did I miss? What tree was bursting into bud and I walked right by? What color was the sunrise I slept through? Were there shapes in the clouds I never looked up to see? What scents were on the breeze I turned my back to?

Spring is coming—beauty is here—ready or not.


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