Being brave, then and now

Being brave, then and now

In another lifetime I wrote a different blog.

One full of prayer and grace and carefully crafted essays that I was brave enough to share with the locals because I wasn’t actually local. I was over 8,000 miles away. I stumbled across that blog tonight and I sat in bed crying, with my husband asleep next to me, as I remembered that girl. She seems so brave to me now. She boarded a plane with strangers, found solace in the Indian sunsets, relied on daily ramen noodles, and rode into the village on the bench seat of a beat up jeep to help care for the lepers. Those words she wrote… oh, what she says to me now… I need to hear it. Life is good. Community is good. Give thanks for joy and grace.

Lord, let those words soak deep into my days and permeate those dry, deprived places. Navigating life, personally and professionally, can wear a girl thin. I’m in the last stretch of school, which means a breadth of opportunities and also fear of losing each one, of making the wrong decision, of saying the wrong thing, of not checking off each to-do box. Never again will I be in this moment, with circumstances both so big and so small. So I can’t help but be grateful when I know some where half way round the world is a priest who once told me to take it slow, to avoid the temptation and downfall of “proving oneself.” I won’t allow myself to feel the frustration of still treading through those same thoughts; I’ll only be satisfied that she recorded those words to remind me yet again of such basic truth.

In another lifetime, maybe I was braver. In a different way. But I’m pretty brave now too. I’m brave enough to say that it’s still not all figured out, that I can find comfort from my college-senior self, that I still believe life is good. Community is good. Give thanks for joy and grace.

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Kindness

Kindness

Be kind to one another, for those great burdens that weigh heavy on your mind and are carried through your days look quite similar to the burdens of your neighbor. Perhaps not. Perhaps yours are more complicated or more contained, larger than your arms can hold or stuffed into a backpack for long-term travel. Maybe your burdens are new or old, hairy or smelly or itchy or odd. But look next door and you’ll see that they’re the same, if you’ll let yourself believe that, if you’ll do yourself the favor (and your neighbor too).

I let myself cry today because the air felt safe and appropriate and true. Water spilled over the edge of my face mask in a hospital room that has grown too familiar; with a hidden smile, my eyes reveal all. I felt thankful for the kindness those around me offered, to allow the mystery of tears, to even share in it. My burdens seem so big to me; I know yours do as well to you. And they are. And I see that. So I plead with you to be kind to one another. For the world needs a ballooning of grace and joy and kindness to glide through the sky and overcome temporary, sorrowful burdens below.

For every bullet point on my gratitude list, I feel as if three more arise to oppose. On tough days, I’m too tired to bother. But kindness pulls me through. It can pull us through together if we’ll let it.