Miracle and wonder

a daytime moon: sure to flood me with emotion, awareness, reverence

Thursday last week was cold and crystal clear, the sky the saturated blue that most makes my heart ache.  I was driving home from some meetings mid-afternoon and as I waited to turn onto a familiar street in my town, I watched the blue pickup truck that was waiting, perpendicular to me.  My blinker clicked as I noticed the driver, who was yawning, and his passenger, who was wearing a thick wool mitten on one hand and navigating the smart phone that she stared into with the other.  I turned past them onto a street that each fall has the most spectacular orange leaves and was hit by a wave of something – an inchoate emotion, somewhere between powerful gratitude and powerless awe – so strong I had to pull over.

Does this happen to you, this sense of being overwhelmed by this world, this life, this right now?  It’s as though an aperture inside my spirit yawned open and was overcome by what it saw, by the brilliance and the brutality, an onrush of wonder so extraordinary it had to snap shut, unable to take any more.  I sat in my car pulled over on the street, my eyes swimming with tears, slightly out of breath as I stared around me.  I’ve looked at these fences a million times, these houses whose owners are as foreign as the permutations of their hydrangeas and particular shapes of their cornices are familiar.

This is my life. 

This, right here.  It is such an outrageous miracle, human life, this planet we walk on, these days we fill with activity.  Sometimes I wonder if other people have this same experience of skinlessness, this sensation of being literally stunned by the fact of life itself.  I suspect they do.  They must.  The very fact that we are born and grow and build families and careers and lives is a breathtaking marvel.  We are microscopic ants on the surface of this great turning ball, whose existence it itself a miracle that renders me inarticulate as I try to comprehend it.  And even though we are so small, we are granted glimpses of the universe that yawns, cavernous, all around us.

I don’t know why this happened last Thursday afternoon, what combination of environment and personal and physiological factors combined so that the man in the pickup and his companion and the leaves and the sky and the cold air on my face startled me, like foil being shaken in my eyes.  I do know this happens to me a lot, with varying degrees of intensity, this slicing realization of the wonder of it all.  The frequency with which I’m brought to tears is one manifestation of the phenomenon, as is, I suspect, my propensity to trip because I’m staring wide-eyed at the sky instead of at the ground in front of me.

When I got home I opened the door onto the noisy chaos of after school, homework being protested and hockey gear being thrown around and dinner being reheated in the microwave.  I kissed Grace and Whit hello and asked about their days and then retreated to my office, where I shut the door and sat looking out the window at the pink-tinged sky, trying to settle my racing heart before my next work call.  These reminders of how extraordinary this life is leave me fragile, shaken, more porous than usual.  But I would never choose not to have them.  They are the streaks of silver that shimmer in the fabric of my life, glinting in certain lights, almost imperceptible in others, but I always know they are there.

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  1. Posted December 11, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Your writing and awareness are so strong and beautiful it moves me to tears, Lindsey. Thank you for taking note of life, savoring every last drop, and making the time to share it. Your impact is felt. Thank you. xo

  2. Posted December 11, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    You are so lucky that you do feel this. More often than not, I rush around and miss all of this. Thank you for reminding me each day to pay closer attention…

  3. Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, Yes, Yes!

    I was named by my drama/speech teacher mother for Emily Webb Gibbs in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Emily says it so well when, after dying in childbirth, she is allowed one day back among the living:

    “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”

    She could see the blindness of the living, oblivious to the every day miracles of life.

    Lindsey, your eyes are wide open!

  4. Kristin H. Macomber
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    At our house, we call it “The light this time of year.” I am a regular pull-er over for that late afternoon glow. I also love getting up in time to see it hit the tops of trees around Fresh Pond. Glorious.

    Thing is, as we know and you do too, it’s the light this time of year, all year long.

  5. Posted December 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I love this phrase: ” an aperture inside my spirit yawned open and was overcome by what it saw,” what a lovely metaphor.

  6. Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Jessica was so right. Hello kindred spirit.

  7. Mamawolfe
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful post. You are not alone. Those experiences happen to me,too, usually in theist unexpected places. Onesfor say they are the moment spirit enters in.

  8. Posted December 12, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    This was just what I needed. Thank you!

  9. Posted December 12, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes and yes. Breath-taking – both these thin moments when the awe of existence overwhelms and the perfect way you’ve captured it here. Thank you.

  10. Posted December 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I have moments like this, too! You captured it so perfectly with your words.

    My favorite line in this post: “It’s as though an aperture inside my spirit yawned open and was overcome by what it saw, by the brilliance and the brutality, an onrush of wonder so extraordinary it had to snap shut, unable to take any more.”

    Amazing piece of writing, Lindsey.

  11. Posted December 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous. Period. Thanks so much Lindsey.

  12. Posted December 13, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how you do this, every time. There are so many lines of beautiful writing in this. I could highlight the whole thing. Beyond that, it’s what you say. It is very clear to me that you love your life. And yes, I have moments where I feel so lost and yet so filled up by what you call the “outrageous miracle” of life. Amazed and humbled and emboldended. It is a welcome and necessary tonic to the other side of it- the horror I feel at so many things in this life (usually felt when watching the news).

    I’m grateful for your words today. xoxo

  13. Posted December 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful and true. I experience moments of overwhelming awe more often this time of year. I think it’s because the other seasons are so worshipped…poor winter gets a bad rap. I’m grateful for them, but they often do leave me stunned and feeling naked.

  14. nancy
    Posted December 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Yup, it happens to me. But no, I don’t think it happens to everyone…. or maybe it happens to everyone at least once in their lives that they consciously let in; but more of the time they shut it out. (No time to pull over; and anyway an emotion that might make them want to pull over on a random Thursday evening is just a little too scary, I guess.) I seem to know plenty of folks in both camps: my sister is one type, I’m the other; and she (and I’m sure all the others in my life) think I’m a little weird. They keep close to the surface; they keep busy. There are plenty of them in the world. But there are plenty of us, too; and increasingly we are finding one another and being inspired by one another on the web; so if we’re the only one in our immediate community who pulls over because the sky is a certain color blue lit up a certain way on a random Thursday evening (the sorts of things that are all over my journal), we no longer need to feel isolated…. Thanks for holding them up so beautifully on your blog.