The Phenomenal Privilege of a Particular Moment

I walked outside last night for the routine task of covering the grill. The trees were bathed in light so ethereal that I forgot where I was for a moment. But then I remembered, and I ran inside for my camera. This was the scene:


The “snow moon” (SNOW?) was just about to reveal itself behind this beautiful cloud.

I suddenly realized that I was about to encounter a viewing, a moment, that no other soul in the entire universe was there for. As tiny as I am in the mind-blowingly enormous scheme of what is, I was the only one given the privilege of witnessing the moon’s spectacular arrival in that exact location of space time.

And here it came:


I was struck dumb by the awareness of all the moments that I have missed because, although I was there,  I wasn’t really THERE. I was distracted, or occupied by 2 of my worst time-sucking habits – rehashing the past and planning the future.

Fortunately, I have found 3 new pastimes that unwind those bad habits and land me square in the present: beach combing, photography, and fishing. Photography is my favorite because it heightens my awareness of details and balance and color and design.

I am trying to take this lesson and apply it with determination to my time with people throughout my day, be it with my kids, or the cashier at HEB. Talk about beautiful displays of God’s design! When I see my cashier and imagine framing her for a photo, I see her in all her precious uniqueness.

I was reminded of this challenging blog post by a dear friend, Len Woods. He contemplates how we interact with strangers and says:

“I’m going to begin to cultivate the simple habit of mentioning people to God—whoever he puts in my path—as I go about my day. Not just my family and friends—I already do that. But all the strangers along the way—and especially in my way.” 

I highly recommend clicking the link above and reading his entire post. I can’t imagine a better way than this to stay present with human beings.

I would love to hear from anyone that made it to the end of this post. When do you feel most connected to the here and now? What beautiful moments have you witnessed that were yours alone in the universe? And what joyful moments might be yours today?

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past! See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Amen and amen.


Beware the Woods’ Words

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Ah, Cindi Woods. Your blog entry, Moving Children, Moving Pictures, stuck in my head and my heart like gum on a sidewalk in August in Houston. Thanks to you, I got nothing practical done Friday afternoon. The washer and dryer empty, not because clothing is folded neatly in drawers, but because laundry was never started. Dishes – yeah – some are from last night. My daughter walked in from school and was quickly whisked into another room so I could finish the last minutes of my movie. Movie ending at 3:05 p.m., you ask? Yes – 2.66 hours of Boyhood – microwave popcorn and a glass of Merlot to boot. Mercy! I could have watched the whole thing again.

From lovely Nicole at the end of the film, “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.” I was seized by this film this afternoon. Patricia Arquette was undeniably brilliant as the Mom just trying to survive, but Ethan Hawke as the biological Dad stole my heart. Oh my gosh – the campout, the sex education, the honesty, the transformation – that father/son relationship is my favorite ever captured on screen. His “how was your week” rant was classic. The bowling alley, “You don’t want the bumpers. Life doesn’t give you bumpers.” Ain’t that the truth! I know those stinking gutters.

I can already feel the micro-tears on the edges of my heart as my son is wrapping up his Sophomore year of high school. I can’t even get my head around the idea of my kids being gone. Arquette in her fantastic last scene, “…I just thought there would be more.” I actually said out loud, “I just thought I would BE more.” And then the song towards the end as “the boy” drives away from home – Hero by Family of the Year.  That just capped it off perfectly – I was DONE.

Or so I thought… but my weekend wasn’t finished yet. 2 days later, I sat down to watch Begin Again – you know why? Partly because I had it sitting next to my DVD player, but mostly because of a text I received from LEN WOODS. This man and woman are smart and powerful on their own, but Holy Dynamic Duo, as a team they are downright dangerous.

Begin again – I think that is what I’m trying to do – and somehow writing and music are all tied up in it. And Len – he gets it – that’s why he texted me after he and Cindi watched this movie. He set me up. The movie was already crawling around my brain before I even pushed play. And what is it that registers to the very core of me? First, that writing and music and life offer no guarantees. We just make the best of what is offered and give the best that we have to offer back. I also saw myself in this film – finally willing to say that I am a writer, finally willing to do the work I’m supposed to do. And then the fear – oh, the fear – that comes with that admission.

The good thing is that I don’t want to be a *WRITER* – known by all – fame of any sort seems like a terrifying and limiting prospect (not to mention highly unlikely). I think I want to be a “writer” – notice the lower case – like my husband is a pilot. What does she do? Oh, she writes and takes care of her sweet family. Maybe that’s the deal. Sounds a little different than she is a housewife that dreams about writing.

And why would the wording there make a difference? I’m not sure how to answer that one. Sometimes I wonder if it’s an ego problem, but then I consider my husband, the pilot. When he is asked what he does, has it ever occurred to him to say, “Oh, I’m a husband and father. I also fly planes for United Airlines.” Um…NO. And do I find that offensive or strange? Of course not (I also know that the order in which he answers is not a reflection of the order of his priorities). So why is it strange that I would like to be a writer with a dear husband and 3 kids? Is that different? I have to admit, it registers differently inside of me. When I think of my 2 daughters, I long for them to be __________ and mothers and wonderful wives. In fact, I think they would be better wives and mothers than I have been if they have the __________ filled in first. I wish I had had a better sense of my own personal identity, some confidence in my own giftedness, in the first 40 years of my life. Might have saved some heartache.

But back to my original point – which is to present a warning to the world that Len and Cindi Woods should not be underestimated. They transformed my weekend into one of deep contemplation, a small river of tears, and renewed determination. Beware of their deep insight, their sharp wit, their clever words and their contagious encouragement. Subscribe to their blog with the full understanding that your life may well be disrupted.