The most beautiful moments of my life are the ones nobody sees. God has called me to see the sacred in the ordinary. From ripe, round, unbearably red strawberries in a simple pottery bowl to spindly curvy palm trees arching into a perfect Hawaiian sky or speckled-belly puppies lying on their backs under a hot Georgia sun, if I choose (and I do choose) to see with my heart as well as my eyes, I get to watch the common transform into the holy. I am one girl, one woman, one daughter, one mother. I have lived this incredible lifetime of memories, choices, gains and losses. Sometimes I wish I'd accomplished more: written my bestselling book, won the Pulitzer, made more money, acquired more possessions. I wish I'd become famous for something meaningful, helped to eradicate a disease, saved a life, or invented something really, really cool. In those times, when I'm thinking that way, I feel a little foolish. What is my life about? Why was I here? And, in some cases, what was I thinking? But, God reminds me. He made me with one purpose: I am here to bear witness. And I take that charge seriously, with great reverence and gratitude for that which I am privileged to see. Like the connection between my daughter, a homeless man and me in front of a Costa Mesa diner. A disheveled man with bright blue eyes in a sun-beaten face, whose name is Kevin. Who connected with my brand newly 26 year old daughter Zoe and me. The one who said, "I was just wondering what to do about dinner" when we offered him a burrito, uneaten, with a clean fork, knife, napkin, and a gorgeous fruit juice. I looked at him and took him straight into my heart. We will never see each other again but Kevin is a part of me now and I am a part of him and that is because God showed him to me, and me to him. Our hearts met because we could see. Like the nights - so many of them - when I leaned, exhausted after a long shift at the hospital, and stared down at my three daughters, sleeping in their little beds. I drank in the sight of them, lying there with their tousled hair and the innocence of sleep dusting their beautiful small faces. It was hard, lonely and scary being a single mom but every time I looked at my girls, my heart cracked wide open and new strength flowed through my tired veins, giving me life to keep going one more day - for them. Like when my parents' house was leveled by a tornado and I watched my 82 year old father searching through rubble for pieces of the 70-year-old train set he's had since his father gave it to him when Papa was 12. That strong man, that beautiful heart, that frail body, bent and weak after twin heart attacks, a stroke, and heart surgery less than a year ago...his will, his courage, his beauty shone like a bright light over all the broken bricks, splintered wood, uprooted tree trunks. Like the way God made me a Pied Piper of animals, mine and other people's and strays. I love them all the same. Ruffy, the tiny toy poodle who became my love, the son I never had, the husband I should have had! Ruffy, who became my dearest companion for the next eleven years til he died at 18. I think Ruffy is still with me. How could he be gone? I feel his presence. I loved him then and I will love him always. Thank you, Dillie, for being his first mom and for allowing me to be his last. And Molly, Beau, Dearie, Goldie, Sadie, Peter Criss, Lily, Sophie, Nahla, Ollie. To every animal I have ever seen wandering the streets, I pray each time that you will be safe, fed, protected. I give you food if I can. I love you. I see you. I see squirrels darting, raccoons scooting, deer leaping across roads and I pray to God for you to make it, and for you to live long lives, free from hunters and fast cars. You matter because I see you. We are all living souls. Like the one who gave life to me, my strong honest God-fearing mother. I watch her raising her grandchildren. She is 74 years old. Every morning she gets up and takes three kids to school. Every night she stays up late, getting clothes washed and lunches ready. I see you, Mama. I see your tiredness, your fear, your weariness and I also see your surviving spirit, your strong beating heart, your wisdom that goes on forever. Like the beauty of humanity: people making human chains to save one dog, a woman giving her life to save her child's, people of faith sacrificing for their beliefs, one homeless man giving his coat to a homeless child. This life is a gift to us from God. That's what I believe. You don't have to believe that way. One thing we all need to do, though, is find a way to bear witness. If we don't, it will go away. And we, as a people, will have lost out on an entire universe of honest, simple, ordinary, common moments that are actually magical, beautiful, wondrous, glorious, sacred, and holy.
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