This is my symphony

What I read & what I lived …

This past month my heart has been full.

Which is a pretty audacious thing to say considering the past several years. Maybe it’s the darn Midwest optimist in me. But I doubt it. Try instead a whole lot of mindfulness, heaps of prayer, and a shit ton of healing.

I know first hand how years of conflict and isolation can take it out of a gal. My world contracted, but it wasn’t until I willed myself to peek over the edge to realize just how small it had become. Classes at the YMCA have given me an energy I haven’t felt in ages–and, truth be told, some pretty sore muscles. Spring is bustin’ out all over, and I can’t seem to get enough of the peeper chorus and birdsong. The grand Littles are growing into fine people. Friend Mary and I found a couple gems in a Vintage Parlor Orchestra concert at a local brewery and an art and architecture trip to Detroit. A Meijer Garden lecture on Midwest gardening for pollinators sent me into a planning frenzy for my yard. (My task today was finding rocks in the field behind my house and throwing them over the fence to start a rock border. Thank you, chest presses!)

Of course there are some bumps. I’ve set aside the travel plans I once had, and that was a doozy of a loss to reckon with. But I’ve found so many treasures lately, how can I possibly complain? Sure, it can be uncomfortable to hear friends talk of far flung adventures, but I come back to the peace I’ve found. The stability. I wouldn’t trade that for a trip around the moon.

This week I settled into Louise Penny’s A Great Reckoning, and it might be my favorite Gamache mystery yet. (Except I used to say that every year about my Christmas trees, too: “I think this is the best Christmas tree ever!”) Armand Gamache is a rock of a man: principled and dedicated to truth, yet willing to acknowledge his frailties. Despite his keen mind, he never lords it over anyone. And I swear I’d move tomorrow if I could find Three Pines on the map. But oh my goodness, I want to sip bourbon by the fire with a licorice pipe (did you know you can order them online?!) and breakfast on croissants and cafe au lait at the cafe and sit in the church under the rose compass window and visit Myrna’s bookstore. It’s just so. darn. comfy.

I love that at the end of a Three Pines novel, loose ends are tied up so neatly. Life isn’t like that, is it? People die and leave us with unanswered questions. People leave, and we struggle to make sense of it all.

“Things are strongest where they’re broken,” Gamache says in a commencement address at the end of Reckoning. He has seen friends and enemies–real and imagined–brought to their breaking point. Some grow stronger; others don’t make it out alive. I’ve thought a lot lately about being broken, of a heart hurt so deeply it seems impossible to put it back together. Leonard Cohen’s Anthem plays in my mind: “Forget your perfect offering/there is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in.”

And, sure, the light does get in. If only we let it.

But I’ve also come to know that being broken is how the light gets out–that when our hearts crack open we become the person God always meant us to be. If only we are willing.

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