Last weekend I was driving to an appointment, and as I often do I made use of the driving time to connect with a friend by phone (hands-free, don’t worry!). I hadn’t talked to her in a little while but try to check in regularly, as she has been navigating an extremely difficult personal situation for almost a year now.
Sure enough, when she picked up the phone her first words were: "How did you know I needed to talk to someone right now?" It was yet another rough day, and she’d woken up feeling hopeless about her situation. Things were improving so slowly that it was hard to say whether they were truly improving at all.
I normally try to strike a balance between compassion and optimism, but that morning she sounded so down that I just emotionally sat there in that space with her. I have been going through a difficult situation myself, but it doesn’t compare to her suffering (and things in my situation have improved a lot recently), so I didn’t say much about me at all, just a few words.
We usually manage to laugh about something even in the most difficult conversation, but that morning there was a sadness about our interaction that was unusual. Her situation just wasn’t improving despite everyone’s hopes, and for the first time I felt that words of optimism and encouragement felt would just ring emptily in the air between us.
As I came close to arriving at my destination, my friend asked me to pray for her over the phone. Usually when I do that, I ask for resolution or healing of her situation, strength to carry on, and so on. This time, that felt wrong, and for the very first time I didn’t ask for any of that. I found other words coming out of my mouth.
I prayed for both of us, especially my friend, to just be able to see the beauty of the present day. To take our eyes off all the things that aren’t as we would like them to be, and instead see ALL the things that are right. To be able to find joy in the day that presents itself now, versus worrying about the days to come and whether they’ll bring the change we want to see.
I prayed for both of us, because I personally have a terrible tendency to miss the richness and goodness of the present moment while worrying about the future (I think most people do).
When things just aren’t working out the way you want them to, and possibly never will, all you’re left with is today. And there is SO much that is right about today.
What is right about today for you, right now?
I said goodbye to my dear friend, parked my car, and set out to walk the couple of blocks to my appointment.
Just before turning a street corner, I saw some words on a wall that made me stop short. Marvel and awe came over me.
Here is what the writing, large white letters all across the charcoal gray wall, said:
"It means a lot to be alive here and now."
I’m sure that was from God. What beautiful confirmation.
I took this photo and texted it to my friend, and got a delighted response back from her in minutes, full of exclamation marks. We were back to being joyful again. Lovely, no?
(I have tried and tried to post the photo here but it won’t work – so the words must be more important than the image)
There is so much that is good about your life, right here and now.