Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Loving LIfe, Finding Hope

I have come to love her Facebook posts, the ones that appear at the close of my hectic days. She chronicles simple things—the pleasures of a garden bud or bug, a delightful visit with a friend or the success of a worthy endeavor. Her days and comments overflow with creativity, domesticity, intellectual pursuits and personal relationships. I don’t know how she gets it all done and still has time to let us know with such frequency and regularity. Her insights, always personable, sometimes pensive, usually positive, brighten my day. Like ‘One Thousand Gifts’ (Voskamp), her brief messages encourage me to appreciate every moment of life and look more deeply for the blessings that they bring.

If you only saw a random post, you might assume she lives a charmed and privileged life. The vignettes she posts reveal little of the health issues she has faced, the dietary restrictions that shape her days or other private pains. Faced with whatever comes along, she remains a woman who loves life, looks for the best and stays engaged.

This morning as I pondered the impact of her posts on me, I could not recall the specifics of a single one. Their power does not lie in the details but in her outlook. Her musings burst with life and hope. It is these two traits that are re-tinting the lens through which I observe my own daily efforts.

I had a like experience once before. Almost thirty years ago, two other people had a similar effect on me. I was at a crossroads when we visited my husband’s aunt and uncle at their two-story, blue trimmed log cabin in Salt Lick Valley. At the time nothing in my life seemed right. I had no hope for things improving on their own and no confidence in my ability to change them. Life was passing me by, and I no longer cared enough to wave as it flew past.

I am not sure what caused me to share my gloomy thoughts with these almost strangers as the three of us strolled through the growing darkness in a twilight search for deer. I couldn’t see their faces; they couldn’t see mine. I was in unfamiliar territory both in finding the path and revealing my heart. Perhaps the fact I stumbled on that uneven road while they walked with comfortable familiarity made me think they had something solid to offer that I needed.

As they shared their story, I silently observed they had overcome with inspiring resiliency things I would have considered insurmountable obstacles. They continually sought out new challenges. When they had been forty and life was good, they determined to make it count for more. They sold their Pennsylvania home and moved to Kentucky to serve as house parents in a mission school. When faced with inadequate funds for retirement, they had salvaged an abandoned log home and painstakingly made it into the bed and breakfast that was a welcome sanctuary for all who found refuge there. Their stories went on and on, filling me with admiration and courage.

With gentle chuckles, they kindly let me know my own problems were a temporary light affliction, easily surmountable. Through their words and by their example I heard, ‘Never give up.’  Life is good. There really is adventure around the next corner, but you have to keep on walking. And when you find it, even if it seems the smallest of victories, embrace it, cherish it and celebrate its goodness. I learned to hope that night.

It’s curious that almost thirty years later, this couple’s daughter is the one who encourages me unknowingly through her daily posts. Loving life and finding hope must run in her family.