Monday, January 13, 2014

housekeeping of the heart


I heard her knocking on the doors down the hall from me.  At one point she tried twice and when there was no answer she inserted her key and turned the handle.

I'm so sorry!  I didn't hear you in here.

And she quickly pulled the door back tight.

I can't imagine doing that day after day...door after door.
Knocking and knowing that if someone is on the other side they don't want you coming in.
Always feeling like you might be intruding.
Picking up behind people who never even acknowledge you {well...actually that kinda sounds like being a mom}.

As I pulled my suitcase down the hall to the elevator I passed her.  I smiled and said 'hello'.  She smiled back.  I kept on walking but something told me that wasn't enough.  I made it to the elevator and watched the doors slide open in front of me...but my legs wouldn't carry me inside.  I left my suitcase sitting there and began walking back.  When I turned the corner she was coming out of a room with dirty towels in hand.  Our eyes met and I told her.

Told her that I appreciate what she does.
Told her that I have a lot of responsibilities at home and a lot of things that have been weighing heavy on me lately.
Told her that for the past two days it had been a gift for me not to worry about who would wash the towels or make the bed or clean the shower.
And I meant was really a gift...and I wanted her to know.
She smiled and her eyes gave light.
Thank you.  Thank you so much for telling me.
It's not an extravagant life I live.
We have a budget that sometimes feels like a belt pulled too tight around my waist.
The cars we drive belonged to someone else first.
The laundry in the hamper and the scum in the shower won't be removed by any hands other than mine.
I dream of laying on a beach in Mexico with my husband instead of actually going there.

But last month I spent two days on the shores of the Atlantic in a hotel room that someone else cleaned up for me, eating meals that someone else cooked for me, in peace and quiet while someone else took care of my children for me.

I have everything I need...and more...much more.

For several months now I have altered my nightly routine.  Instead of climbing into bed bone-tired with thoughts of my to-do list for the day ahead and my failures for the one behind, I have crawled under the covers with a question...and this is it...
What do I undeservedly have...right here, right now?
What grace is surrounding me in this moment?

As I roll onto my side and hold the softness of my pillow close I always think of the three of them first - that living, breathing family of mine tucked snugly inside a home that provides protection and comfort - that is grace.
I have a bed that is clean and warm and comfortable - that is grace.
I have a heart full of words and places to offer them up as worship - that is grace.
I have more family and friends surrounding me than I could even count - that is grace.

...and that is just the beginning.  As I let my mind wander down this path I find myself stopping over and over again to admire the view of my life.  The beauty of the people and experiences and provisions that surround me begin to blend together into a breathtaking scene of grace.
Taking in that scene leads my brow to softness instead of tension.  My teeth stop clinching as my lips turn upward.  My tightly folded limbs begins to loosen and release.

We all have the opportunity to live our lives with the door to our hearts wide open.  We can choose to be a space that says - welcome, won't you please come inside? - or we can go around with a 'do not disturb' sign hanging around our necks.

I don't ever want to take this privileged life for granted.  I don't ever want to take the people who bring comfort and joy to me for granted.  I may not appear to live extravagantly, but compared to the rest of the world...I do.  Compared to what I deserve...I do.

So many times I fail to stop and leave the suitcase behind.  I resist the urge to walk back towards the one who needs simple words of thanks or a token of appreciation.

Today I am recommitting to a life of receiving and giving grace.  If I open my hands to receive the riches I am given and then leave my fingers splayed wide so that what I hold actually becomes an offering, I allow this grace to keep moving.  Without that movement grace will die in my arms.

Grace for the undeserving...I will paint the walls of my heart with it.
I will carpet the floors.
I will burn it in the fireplace so the sweet aroma rises high.
This is the housekeeping of the heart.

grace upon grace...