Existing in the Moment

Holy Spirit,
Image by kelsey_lovefusionphoto via Flickr

It’s easier to be thankful in the crisis moments. Crises burn all the pettiness out of life. During them, you really exist in the present. You stop getting angry because the dishes aren’t done and the city didn’t plow your street properly, and your brain hums with awareness of all that is good about the humdrum, ordinary circumstances of life. So really, crisis points are themselves something to be thankful for.

But this was not a crisis weekend. It was just an ordinary weekend at the end of a long week strung with snow days. And I got crankier by the day, for no good reason at all, my vision zeroing in on a snow pile of minor irritants until I had a fight with my husband. And this morning, as I sit down to write down my gratitude moments for the week, it feels fake and super-saccharine to talk only about them, and pretend like the rest of it never happened.

I’m beginning to realize that when I am content, when my brain relaxes, the buzz of the Spirit in my brain signals that I’m existing in the moment. I’m not worrying about the novel without a home, or the novel without a structure, or lesson schedule or getting the carpet shampooed or figuring out Julianna’s future. In those fleeting moments, I simply am.

I had several of those this weekend.

There was the moment Friday afternoon when I sat upstairs, typing Lenten recipes and novel scenes. The sound of giggles downstairs bypassed my usual filters, and I realized—really realized: my children are playing together. They’ve been playing together for half an hour without bickering—just enjoying each other. My fingers paused, my hands dropped to my lap, and instead of thinking or problem solving, I just listened. Listened to the laughter of my children enjoying each other, loving each other. And it made me realize anew how much I love my children.

There was the moment an hour or two later, when all fell quiet for a moment, and then I heard Alex’s voice: “I love you, Nicholas.”

There was the moment Saturday night, when I called my dad and Alex commandeered the phone. And while I tossed clothes in the dryer and got ready for bed, I kept an ear trained on the conversation in the hallway. “I only had school on Monday this week,” Alex said. “I think my mom probably liked it. Because she doesn’t have anything to do except sit in front of the computer all day long.” I paused with my toothbrush halfway to my mouth, a shot of mingled horror and amusement and guilt piercing my chest. Is that all he sees of me? It was like a split-second examination of conscience. I tripped along memories, trying to convince myself that the time I spent with him this week making valentines, playing Batman, reading books and baking, actually counted for something. But it was another reminder that my work is not more important than my children.

And there was bedtime on Sunday, as I sat singing Child of the Moon to my children. Between one word and the next, right before my eyes, Julianna turned to her big brother and smiled, then crooked an arm around him. They looked like high school buddies, not small children. And then Alex turned his head and smiled at her, nose to nose, eye to eye, and love poured out of their gaze and smacked me with the sheer force of its power, stealing my breath for half a second. And in that moment, I understood anew how love can be so powerful that it becomes a physical force in the world, like the Holy Spirit, an uncontainable manifestation of the love of Father and Son.

Moments like these, I ache to capture on camera, but my camera is downstairs in the drawer, and even if I had it on me, by the time I pulled it out and turned it on, the moment would be past. So instead I just sit and drink it in. Ten minutes later, I’ll be mad because somebody hit somebody else or spilled a glass of milk, or distracted by a troublesome manuscript, or the phone will ring and I’ll go back to worrying about NFP presentations and DS support groups…but for that one, brief moment, I am present in my own life.

More gratitudes:

Having babysitting on Friday for the first time in weeks

Getting a lot done because of it

Having the house back, with all family members going where they’re supposed to go M-F.

Alex growing and stretching and relaxing into his role as big brother—and luxuriously enjoying it!

A good book

The first step toward reclaiming my weight

Packing snow

Calvin & Hobbes snowmen, courtesy of my husband

A hush over the creek