How to live in this space of giving thanks and holding the dynamic of being present enough to notice all the micro moments where grace can be found is a discipline. You need to practice your gratitude – or at least speaking for myself I need to practice it.
Last Sunday amidst the celebrations of love and life, clinking of glasses, giggles of small children, and the kookaburras call – a woman came up to me. I didn’t recognise her and she gave me hints of how I might remember her. She had come into my life referred to me by the local priest as someone in distress and needing support in a decision to stay or leave a marriage. As a counsellor and confidante of the clergyman, he thought I might be able to help. My referral networks were extensive and in very good shape so I had no doubt I would be able to assist her. Sans a place confidential enough for a conversation in the church buildings, I took her to the beach where we walked and where she sobbed into my arms, grieving for a love lost and feeling completely without a compass, skills or knowledge on what to do next. She was worried that people might notice me holding her and think we were lesbians – it was more than 20 years ago and those thoughts were common. It was only when she revealed that memory that I put the clues together and remembered her.
Between then and now there have been many women both professionally and in my personal relationships who I have comforted at those moments of deep sadness. I was very touched that she came to speak to me … but wait there is more. I asked her how had things worked out. She turned around a pointed to a man who was now her husband and had been so more 17 years. She had healed from the visible and invisible scars and had truly made a turnover and recovered herself. She said it was that day on the beach that helped; that freed some of the chains that had been holding her back to take the next step to wholeness. We shared our stories of the man who had brought us together and gave thanks for his wisdom in making that moment happen.
I was overwhelmed to receive the harvest of a lifetime in a single moment with this connection. She had known I was going to be at the event, was looking forward to being there so she could tell me how happy she was and she laughed, how through her heavy sobs that day she added to her worries by wondering if she was going to be tagged as a lesbian by passersby!
(Fortunately those attitudes to lesbians are dying out and congratulations to NZ for passing the same-sex marriage legislation this week.)
The grace that comes by being grateful seems to be exponential. The little things we do everyday may well be the yeast in someone else’s life. That day on the beach, I was just doing my job, responding to a request from my mate the local priest – sure I was equipped to help – but it was nothing less than nothing and that is when I know I am a ‘feather on the breath of God’ and give thanks. The harvest took more than two decades to be revealed to me and what an honour it was to be witness once again and see the fruits of another’s journey.