I am not a “big picture” person. I have never been and I don’t really foresee this happening in my future. (If I was a big picture person, I might try to foresee whether or not this may be true, but since I’m not I’ve already forgotten what I was just talking about. Or maybe that happened because of the 20 mo. old that kept me up until 3 a.m.) I tend to dwell in the moments as they are happening.
This gets me in trouble sometimes. I rarely know what is on my calendar more than a few days in advance, let alone next week or month. I am often getting to places by the “seat of my pants” (where did THAT phrase come from, I wonder?!) and often forget to breathe because of the stress this can cause. I usually catch my breath once I’ve sat down at the end of the day, but it often takes me a few days to recover.
But most of the time this awareness of the present is a blessing. It seems that when we can really focus on the little moments as they are happening it brings a joy and contentment that no well thought-out plan can offer (at least in my world). Case in point:
I am having a hard time navigating this Christmas season: the many gifts yet to buy, finances to maneuver, parties to host, songs to sing, presents to wrap, decorations to hang, traditions to fulfill, memories to create, etc, etc. (breathe, Becky, breathe!) And because this time of year is extra painful for me, and I am an avoider of the highest level, I tend to try to put my focus anywhere BUT the current moment which fights my natural tendency and causes a major disruption in my universe. (Which means I sit on the couch and eat lots of chocolate and watch all my dvr’d Ellen shows back-to-back.)
But several nights ago we had a moment. And I caught it. And I’ve been able to marinate in it a bit which has brought some of that joy and contentment back into the scene. The Charlie Brown Christmas movie was on television. I remember those days when it was on once, and if you missed it (which I did one specific year and can still feel that heartbroken-ness) you didn’t see it until the next Christmas.
My husband and I were very excited it was on and really wanted to watch it as a family. But one daughter had homework, and the 3 year old determined there just wasn’t enough singing, and the baby found a drumstick under the couch and was practicing his swordplay, and the 5 year old decided that coloring and a little Justin Bieber-singing were calling to him. This meant it was my husband, me, and the obligated daughter (who was wishing she was reading her Goosebumps novel) watching, and the rest of the kiddos circling in the near vicinity.
The show was at the point where the kids decorate Charlie Brown’s pitiful little Christmas tree and start singing the “loo-loo-loo’s.” My husband and I of course sang along, and then shortly after that the show was over. Ian – the 20 mo. old – cried out, “NO!” and said, “Again.” So (thanks to the blessed dvr), we rewound the show back to the “loo-loo-loo” place and watched it again. This time the toddler and preschooler were drawn into the show and watched it until it was over.
Ian was still not having it and said, “Again” when it was over. So we rewound it again and this time the 5 year old was drawn in and the homeworking daughter wandered into the room as well. After it was finished and we obeyed the “Again” command once more, I looked around at my family. The faces of my darling children were mesmerized by the singing (and I like to imagine) the love and community of those little children on that screen.
And I began to cry.
It was an overwhelming, beautiful moment. 7 of us, sitting together, mesmerized by a simple, loving moment from dear old Charlie Brown. As I looked around at their faces, I was filled with a deep contentment as well as the deep sadness that always accompanies it for me. For it is in those type of moments that I feel closest to Kate. That veil between where I reside and she resides thins a bit and I can almost reach out to her. It is at once heart-breaking and joy-filling.
And so I practice gratitude in the midst of chaos. Joy in the midst of pain. Fun in the midst of obligation. Presence in the midst of absence. Christ in the midst of this world.
Charlie Brown in the midst of the Grinch.
The little moments in the midst of the big picture.