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Moments of Wonder

An illusion haunts us, that a long duration, as a year, a decade, a century, is valuable. But an old French sentence says, “God works in moments.” We ask for long life, but ’tis deep life or grand moments that signify. Let the measure of Time be spiritual, not mechanical. Life is unnecessarily long. Moments of insight, of fine personal relation, a smile, a glance–what ample borrowers of eternity they are!
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Grace a la Manure

A long time ago, a city girl princess moved to her own Winnie the Pooh hundred acre wood. This was accessible only by dirt roads that ran through a creek. She, her husband, and five children were the first new family to move into this particular “hollow” since before the civil war.  And yes, it did turn out to be more like Green Acres than Winnie the Pooh.

There are many stories of their adventures in the Tennessee wilds.  Most are funny or  happy, but some are scary, and a few are sad.   And then there are some that are all of these.  This is one of the those.

In one  six month time span several years after moving to the country;  the family’s finances became severely reduced, there was a serious crisis affecting the future of one of their teen-age children, and the queen mother, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, came to live with them. The princess was seriously considering buying one of those tacky bumper stickers that said, “Shit happens.”

One morning in the middle of this collage of challenges, the Princess was driving out their country road, harassing God, “God, I’m up to my neck in manure here. Where are You in all this?”

At that moment, she happened to glance toward the side of the road.  There sat an incredibly humongous fresh cow patty covered with dozens of glorious monarch butterflies.

It was such a typical God answer, that the princess had to stop beside the road, because she was both laughing and crying with joy.  What a ridiculous, but perfect symbol. Where there’s manure in our lives, there’s grace.  In fact, often the manure is the grace.  It’s what God uses to help us become the people we were created to be.

And a few days later, the princess just happened to come across a bumper sticker that read, “Grace Happens.”  She bought that one instead.

Can You Listen to a Stone?

Yesterday, on the blog Radical Amazement, there were beautiful photos of gatherings of butterflies on creek pebbles. Some were black and others were typical Monarch golden butterflies.

Years ago when I was experiencing several truly heartbreaking tragedies, I was seriously considering getting one of those tacky bumper stickers that loosely translated say, “Manure Happens.”

Driving out my country road one morning, I was yelling at God in my mind, “Where are you? I am up to my neck in manure here?” Just then, I noticed a large ripe cow paddy beside the road. It was literally covered in large golden butterflies. I had to pull over because I was both laughing and crying.

What a perfect symbol and answer to my cry. Yes, manure happens, but so does grace. And often it’s the manure that is the fertilizer that brings the grace of growth and transformation. A couple of days later a friend found me a bumper sticker that said, “Grace happens.”

After remembering all this, I decided to journal for the first time in months. When I opened to the last page I had written, the last line was, “Can you listen to a Stone?”

It seemed to connect with the small stones and the butterflies.  As I reflected on them, I realized that I actually do better coping with the larger disasters of life, because I do turn to God and somehow focus on listening and being empowered by grace. It’s the myriad of small difficulties that seem to accumulate and turn me into a nervous wreck.

I’m in one of those sieges right now. And not doing very well at letting go and letting God empower me. As I looked at the photos, it hit me that once again God had sent me a symbol. There is the grace of transformation even in the bunches of small pebbles in my life.

It’s a wonderful reminder to live in the present moment, listening to each small hard thing for God’s call to grace and growth.

“Yes, with grace, I can begin to listen to one small stone at a time.”