Like everyone else, I was surprised and dismayed to hear Monday’s news: the bombs detonating, the screams and smoke, the aftermath. Amputations, shrapnel and surgeries because you went to see them cross the finish line. Three of them dead, all of them somebody’s child.
After three days worth of radio news, I was nonetheless surprised to see the flag stand at half-mast at my son’s track meet. And then I remembered. And then I was surprised I had forgotten already.
But I was distracted, you see, by slicing and bagging the oranges and hauling the cooler up from the basement and buying the ice. Distracted by making sure I’d arrived to the school on time and by getting my car-load of boys, by taking them in traffic to the track meet, to a place I’d never been before.
Then I was surprised, afterward, to remember that the oranges had been meant to stay at school for the girls’ soccer game– where, instead, they had no refreshments that day.
And I was surprised, again, by making the kind of mistake I make over and over again.
I shouldn’t be surprised.
Still, I am. As I am surprised by conversation characterized by uncharitableness: over gun-control, over abortion, over voter identification. Over sports teams. Over the Greeks and the Germans and their spending habits.
And I am surprised by my children’s seeming unwillingness to make their beds (so simple!) and put their clothes away, to speak a kind word (sometimes) when Look! this unkind one– but infinitely funnier– will do.
But there is also this in me: selfishness and a deep seam of useless competitiveness that erupts in jealousies and criticism, that wants– at all costs– to be better than you. And if I cannot be better, then it will suffice to seem so.
Always, I am surprised by it.
This week I am surprised by the persistence of the pollen, crusted now in the window sills and trim, yellowing the panels of my otherwise black front door. Is it always like this, I wonder? After eighteen years of living here, must I still be surprised at the dust of these (how long?) two weeks, where a walk in open air makes your skin and clothes feel gritty?
It’s almost enough to distract me. It’s nearly enough, because its yellowness so very nearly verges on the green– the green that was born quietly chartreuse over the weekend, adding new and profound dimension to the line of our backyard and the sides of the highway and everything in-between.
So many leaves.
I might have missed it yesterday, slicing oranges as I was at the kitchen counter, in a hurry. My back was to it. But the sunlight poured into the breakfast room and so I managed to see it anyway: the outdoor green that has deepened now to match the granny smith apples in their blue bowl on the kitchen table.
Strange how quiet grace can be, how easy it is to overlook. It’s a hand, simply and always extended, and ever so deeply scarred.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23