Tonight we pulled boxes from high shelves. We blew dust from the tops and sat together, pulling out memories one by one. Remember this one? we asked each other over and over again. And, we did remember. We held each shiny ornament by its silky ribbon and dangled it in front of Emerald’s tiny face, telling her stories and explaining where we got each one. Her blue eyes blinked wide with wonder. She gasped each and every time. Ooh, I love it! It’s my favorite! We laughed at her enthusiasm, and we smiled at each other with delight because we all knew that each of us felt the same way she did.
The tree is up, still unlit. Still sitting crooked and scraggly, straight from a storage shed and looking like it will never be beautiful. It hasn’t been fluffed or straightened or sparkled or laden with pretty gifts. The kids have already plotted spots for hanging their favorites. And, I have already filed away some precious memories of this season.
Each day of living is a gift.
At the beginning of another week in our small town with more funerals to plan, more sweet people to comfort and love. On an evening filled with stories of riots and looters and the all-wrong way that human beings tend to deal with our human-ness. On a day that saw both sunshine and rain, beautiful blessings of mercy and the terrible pain of loss, on this day, and on all days, we can say that this moment, this breath, this dusty box filled with ornaments, this heartache, this breath-taking feeling of simultaneous smallness and endlessness, yes all of this, and much, much more, is a gift.
In the Bible the Israelites often built markers as reminders of how God blessed. How He loved. How He demonstrated His power and His mercy and His goodness. And, maybe that’s one reason that I write this blog.
Because little Emerald, she won’t even remember this night a year from now. She won’t tear up thinking about how sweet the time was. But, tonight, in our living room in her bare feet and her hand-me-down outfit that was just a little too big, she was happy.
I’ll keep that memory for her. And, I’ll send her little messages here and there, setting scraggly tree markers in her life and mine, reminding us both that His gifts are everywhere, in the good and the bad, in the birth and the death, in the giggles and the tears, in the beginning, the end, and the middle parts that twist together like last year’s Christmas lights.
He is in it all. And, I don’t want to forget it.
I will remember the works of His hands.