Rainy days are meant for pondering, I think. My favorite days at camp were the rainy ones - the soft summer rain would pound on the tin roofs that covered our open-air buildings. The sweet smells of rain and lake and dirt and pines mingled together and lulled us all into long, easy afternoon naps.
There are few memories I have as vivid as those days I spent growing up and out and in on the shores of Newfound Lake.
It's easy to look back at days as vibrant and precious as those, when my mind was free of normal distractions and my entire world boiled down to just what happened on the acres of land situated between Bristol and Plymouth along State Route 3A.
Graces are easy to count when the days are long and full, when computers and televisions are nowhere to be found, when my cell phone wouldn't work except as my oh-too-early alarm.
My tendency to over-idealize the past - and the future - often leaves my present dim and discouraging. "That was so good - why can't it be like that again?" and "When do we get to what's next?" crowd these ordinary days and their graces out of my mind.
And I wonder if I can be a butterfly net for grace? Catching it each time it flutters by even in these mundane moments of rising early, sitting at a desk all day, coming home to dinner and chores and maybe a few sweet moments with my husband?
Sometimes I don't even pay attention, wrapped up in my selfish heart with the straight-and-narrow-focus of goodness in place of grace-full-ness.
It's easier to be good than graceful.
It's easier to focus on hope than it is to actually live it out where I am right now.
From the time I was a little girl, everything has been about "what's next".
Well, I don't know what's next. And I've spent the last 25 years trying to figure it out, and I think the answer is grace. Grace in the morning, grace in the afternoon, grace in the evening. Grace in the face of ugly and fear; grace in the places of deep joy and celebration.
It's not an easy answer. In fact, it's much harder than trying to figure out what will make me "good" or "better" or "best" (my favorite).
There's a little hymn that I can't seem to shake so far in 2012. It's early yet, I know, but I have a feeling it will stick with me. My soul longs for rest, for peace, for grace everyday. That means more emptying of myself, my heart, my longing for the past and my idol-filled hope for the future. I have a feeling this will be my anthem for this season; it is my prayer every day and the only Hope I have for "what's next."
I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith and love and every grace Might more of His salvation know And seek more earnestly His face
Twas He who taught me thus to pray And He I trust has answered prayer But it has been in such a way As almost drove me to despair
I hoped that in some favored hour At once He'd answer my request And by His love's constraining power Subdue my sins and give me rest
Instead of this He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry powers of Hell Assault my soul in every part
Yea more with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Cast out my feelings, laid me low
Lord why is this, I trembling cried Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death? "Tis in this way" The Lord replied "I answer prayer for grace and faith"
"These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me, That thou mayest seek thy all in me."