Last night, on my drive home from Marquette University’s dinner to close out their mission week celebration of Opus Prize winners (more on this very, very soon), I navigated a section of the Menomonee River Parkway, which meanders through suburban Milwaukee. It’s a beautiful parkway which makes me very grateful for Milwaukee’s German roots, as it also reminds me of many lovely roads in Germany. Green spaces were preserved, large trees saved and houses aren’t wedged in every available space. It had snowed and the snow continued — a wet, heavy, gorgeous snow. The worst had passed so the drive was manageable, not frightful. The trees held that layer of snow on top of their branches that often makes me think of hands, cupped, reaching skyward. I drove under this wonderland canopy, hoping to see a deer — far enough to not worry about hitting it, but close enough to view its majesty. When I turned onto my street, I saw a deer in a neighbor’s yard. It crossed the road in front of me and I felt slapped in the face — not in a hurtful way. It was a gentle slap — a slap followed by a deep inhale, a smile and a “thank you” resonating in my heart.
Yes. Yes. I don’t know why, but I do know I am blessed. Over and over again, the beauty of this world can stun me. And, I’m ever so grateful to still be on this earth. The mission week theme at Marquette was “The World is Our Home,” which reminds me, as I sit in heated comfort, gazing at this serene view of beauty, that down the road in downtown Milwaukee, someone less fortunate is walking a slushy sidewalk, wearing holey sneakers that are becoming wet. The person’s feet are cold. And I hope they can find a safe, warm spot to lose the chill. I hope he or she will find a shelter with space for them tonight.
I don’t know why I am blessed. And, I don’t know why that nameless – to me – person must struggle so. Life isn’t fair. We learn that as time passes, and unfortunately some learn it sooner than others. For some reason, part of my wiring seems to be to notice and be a witness to beauty. I must believe there is a reason for that. My calling doesn’t seem to lead me to work at a shelter, but perhaps to call others who might shy away. I can, and do, give financial support to efforts targeting the less fortunate. But my time I’ve yet to give in a devoted, intentional way. I regret that. And maybe, in the days ahead, I will rectify that.
In the meantime, I hope you are finding beauty where you are, and that you are stopping to notice, with a deep breath and a thank you that fills your heart. If your gratitude for your own situation causes you to try to help someone less fortunate, in whatever ways you are able, all the better.
Wishing you only beautiful words today. Happy #writing.