Falling and Counting

So I’ve been absent for a while.

You could say I’ve been distracted, confused, overwhelmed.  You could say I’ve been flooded with illuminating inspiration and dark discouragement all at once.  You could say that life, in all its complexity, in all its difficulty, has had me struggling.

You could say I’ve been trying to figure it all out.

It would be a massive understatement if you did.

I can’t really put this past week into words.  As I have gone through my yearly ritual of preserving, in some way, my favorite season, I find myself desperately trying to change my own life while at the same time trying to hold on to a moment that is moving on and changing before my very eyes.

I have felt many things since we got home from the funeral.  I have gone through an unexpected turmoil in celebrating death and in advancing in age myself.  I can’t really write them.  It would take too many words and never all be explained.

But I have had a difficult time.  My mind has tried so hard to figure out all of the whirling thoughts inside of it, most of which have nothing to do with either death or birthdays, but which somehow have been churned up by both.  I think I’ve tried so hard to figure it out that I have confused myself all the more and only deepened my discouragement.

I’ve been pretty down.

But I spent the day in the city yesterday.

And though I am a country girl and the city is definitely not the place for me, there is nothing like a morning in the city to humble me and set my mind and heart right.

It was a gray day, chilled and blustery.

Every time I drive through the city, I am humbled and awed, by the people that I see and meet.  People who have literally nothing, yet still have a smile of gratitude to share with me.

People who teach me constantly to count my blessings, and to remember the mercies in my life.  People who inspire me to be more, to look outside myself, my problems, my confusion, my mind.

People who remind me there is more.

The girls and I spent the morning yesterday with people from Congo, Nepal, Rwanda, and Burma.  Refugees who have fled unimaginable violence, who have had unspeakable things happen to their homes and families.

Women in a strange land and culture, desperately trying to eek out a new life, learn a new language, find a way to survive.

And yet, I was the only one in the room who was stressed out.

But I didn’t remain that way for long.  These women have nothing, and yet they were overwhelmingly happy to see my daughters.  They expressed again and again their gratitude and joy at our visit.  They hugged them, they squeezed their cheeks, they gave them each a gift.  They all smiled, they all laughed.

They lifted my soul.

As I went about the rest of my errands with five children amidst the bustle and the traffic, my heart was lighter.  Yes, it was still a hectic day, but I was lighter inside.  The cares of my world had been lifted by these beautiful women, and by others who I met throughout the day.

I had come to lift them.  But they lifted me.

When the hectic day was done, and we sat for a while in a downtown parking lot, waiting for Matt, I watched the madness of the city rushing around me.  Somehow, though, all I could see were the lights coming on.

(My brother-in-law has gotten me into the world of HDR photography, and though these are off-the-cuff pictures and not at all well-done, I am hooked.)

I had to smile to myself.

This city, this huge, bustling city, which lately I have been frantically striving to find a way to get away from, was what finally soothed my soul.

It was what finally helped me to stop what I was doing, and begin again to count my blessings.

It’s amazing how much lighter I feel.

Count your blessings.  If life can be still worth living for the many different people I met in the city yesterday, it can still be very worth living for you and for me, too.

Life is good.  Blessed am I.

8 Responses

  1. Jessie Richens

    Beautiful! It seems the moments I expect to help or lift someone, they always do the lifting :) I hope you are well.

    October 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  2. Mom R.

    Ann, you truly have a gift – especially with pictures! But how right you are – when we allow ourselves to dwell in ever-tightening circles, we lose our way. When we look outward, and reach out to help others, we cannot help but feel – and *be* better! :)
    Love you!
    Mom R.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:43 am

  3. Dad R

    So, I see Denver offers “DUI Classes” … as how-to, or how-to-not?

    Life is good to be seeing the green part of the grass! That means you still have a chance to fix things, eh?

    Love to the mountain people!

    October 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm

  4. Tory

    I love the first HDR pic. A few alignment problems (a tripod will fix that), but it looks like you got the lighting and tone mapping perfect. Great job.

    Oh, and the rest of the post was good too.

    October 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  5. I’ve been in a similar rut. ANd it is the simple things that I need. The gratitude. The patience. They always heal me after I am running around like crazy looking for a different solution.

    October 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm

  6. Interesting that we often go through the same emotions around the same time…
    We ran away to Thailand to relax and get warm. The first morning we were driving through Bangkok, I realized the real reason we had come was humility and gratitude. Such beauty, and right next to it the pit of the earth. And people constantly smiling. I still can’t get used to it, how happy the people I saw to be in such dire spots, such decay and waste surrounding them, and in such sad places to live, were still so happy. Something I needed to think about.

    October 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

  7. If there was a particular time I needed to read your words was right this moment. Thank you for reminding me the blessing that I have been given.

    November 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

  8. Debbie Domenici

    Thank you for you beautiful pictures and words. I need to find ways to help others so that I can forget about my worries and concerns. Oh, how I need to count my blessings more.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:51 am

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