I made a mistake. I left my dog at my moms house last night. I drove all the way back to Richmond and spent 6 hours before I realized he had a vet appointment in the morning only when my sister reminded me right before bed time. Oh no! It was too late to do anything about it. I would have to call and ask for grace and hope there is no cancellation fee. How could I forget what day it is? How could I forget the literal one thing I had planned all week with an official time? After frantically asking my mom if she could meet me half way, I realized I needed to surrender my attempts to fix it and just swallow my pride and call in the morning.
So I go to bed.
I also realized I had committed to another one of those early morning boot camps. I woke up early. The first thing I saw was music video of the new song by Jess Ray called “Grace and Mercy” and well, you need to listen to it. I have listened to it several times today and felt the tears well up, and a few times, overflow.
So I make it to boot camp and NO one is there. I check my email. A new location today. I messed up again. The grace was it was just across the road at another public location. Phew. I make it. And well, It was a wonderful session full of exercises that made me feel stronger and encouragement from those around me. And then at the end, I pinched my sciatic nerve. This is a random thing that happens every so often especially when I’m stressed and tight and man, does it start instantly hurting. It is a thing that happens to me enough in my life that it can really get me down. It feels akin to a thorn in my life, kinda like Paul in 2nd Corinthians—I always wonder what his was. I wonder if he was tempted to feel pathetic or like a failure or less than in some way.
There’s nothing like pain to remind me of the fact that I am human, not invincible, and not in control. I had so many plans for today. I had already failed the first plan, but I was determined to make up for it. And now this! Not this! Anything but this! I text my sister and tell her. She knows. She says back to me “NOOOOOO!!!” She knows what this means. She knows me. She knows my list of things to do. She’s been helping me all week accomplish them. So when she makes her way to my house, she makes me food, tea, and then goes outside to my garden with me. I am in pain, but I am trying to keep moving to get the things done. I know the lavender needs to be pruned, badly. Ive been putting it off all week. I wanted it to be a reward to myself to be able to harvest these beautiful bushes I planted last year that are so fruitful this year! And I cant even bend over. So you know what my sister does? She cuts them for me while I walk back and forth keeping myself moving the best I can through the pain. In the hot humidity, she labors and let me tell you, it's a lot of lavender for three little bushes. I hold the bouquet as she hands me each individual lavender cutting. It smells divine. We are next to the hydrangea bush that is beginning to pop blue and the orange day lilies complement the backdrop. I know it is beautiful but the pain is trying to take precedence. And then a bumblebee comes up to me and my bouquet of lavender. Some of the little flowers of bloomed. I hold the bouquet close to my face. The bumblebee is only inches from my eyeballs. He’s wonderful. So fuzzy and bumbly. I watch him fly from flower to flower. I don’t know all the parts of a bumblebee, but I so enjoyed watching him. It’s not a mechanical action, its actually really precious. Almost endearing. It looks like he’s grabbing the flower and sticking his straw-like sucker in to take it all in. I watched that thing for as long as he graced me with his presence. I was delighted. I wanted to stick my whole head into the moment myself and suck up the beauty of that little creature doing exactly what he was made to do. My sweet sister continued on until she finished the job. I almost forgot the pain.
I was left with a beautiful fragrant bouquet and a memory.
It was a little taste of heaven on earth.
One of my first jobs out of college was as a waitress at a restaurant in Charlottesville with a family that I have grown to love. Each customer was given an amuse Bouchée before their meal. It’s not an appetizer but even smaller. Think one bite. Every night, it was different, depending on what fresh ingredients were available. Almost everything in that restaurant was local. I knew nothing about the amuse Bouchée. I learned that it is a French word —amuse like our word amuse—to like, enjoy, savor, relish, divert, entertain, please, fancy, think fit, do what you think is right, and Bouche is the word for mouth. So traditionally, one bite of an ornate mini appetizer would be served (sometimes served on a spoon), to whet your appetite. To make you ready to be served the full meal. To prepare your taste buds and digestive system for something special.
In these moments of beauty—when we hear a song that makes us cry, when a friend knows us and serves us well, when a bumblebee soaks up the sweetness of a flower—-these are little amuse bouche for the full feast. While the pain of this time is real, there is an ache deeper still for the full thing. The longing for home, for shalom, for everything to be made right. A people, a place, a memory that we relish forever. I really cant wait, especially on days like today when the pain reminds me I’m not home yet.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Today, at the precise moment I finished a project for women in my church, a song came on my phone—the song we sang every time we met together to study Galatians last year. I didn’t even know the Celtic album by Edens Bridge had this song on it. And well, I am reminded today that there is so much grace and mercy for me, a sinner, a human. Here it is:
Spirit of the living God
Fall afresh on me;
Spirit of the living God
Fall afresh on me
Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me
Spirit of the living God
Fall afresh on me
May we taste heaven today amidst any pain the world, our flesh, or the enemy gives us.
May you know the peace of Jesus today.
Sending you love and virtual hugs,
PS Listen to this episode here.