Monday, July 7, 2008

Disguised as Ordinary

My mom's group brunch, which no doubt sounded liked a grand affair -- and I have warm, beautiful memories of such affairs at Liz's house--was very small and intimate. It consisted of Lauren, who hosted, Linda and me.

Which was wonderful.

Within the larger mom's group, there was a core of about five of us who would meet irregularly at (another) Dianne's house for brunch. We were all so happy to get those invitations! Dianne, who has since moved, was a hostess extraordinaire. She was (and no doubt still is) a remarkable, strong, creative, high energy person who transformed a typical colonial tract house into an almost sacred space of beauty and serenity. She used paint, attention to detail, twigs and wildflowers gathered ... I remember her impatience with the way some friends in our affluent suburbs would turn her design advice into pricey projects. "It doesn't have to cost a lot," she would always say, clicking with frustration.

Dianne was also an amazing cook and hostess. She wasn't afraid to create a mood, use fine china or experiment with recipes. She had very little trouble getting people to visit. In fact, an invitation to her house was a coveted part of the mom's social calendar. The rest of us were in awe of her gift of hospitality.

In any case, Lauren's brunch was a way to bring together what was left of the old Dianne group. Since Dianne herself has moved, there was the possibility of, at most, four to five people. That we gathered three was an achievement.

I can't overstate how terrific it was to see Lauren and Linda. Even though we hadn't met this way in four years, as we caught up, we fell into the easy intimacy of old friends or family members.

These are people I know on very deep level.

When they recounted spiritual milestones from their pasts, I remembered being there at the time when the way opened or the illumination came. I felt woven into their lives at an intimate level, in a way that's only possible for people who are spiritually connected.

I was struck when I saw them this time, at what strong, remarkable people both women are. One of the greatest gifts of taking the leap of faith and embarking on the spiritual journey has been the amazing people I have met. There have been many. Probably many of you are reading this blog.

But remarkable as Lauren and Linda are, they go through life disguised as entirely ordinary people.

One the truisms--and truths--of the spiritual journey, is that the world of the spirit all around of us--the Kingdom of God-- is so easy to miss. Without transformed eyes, I could work or live side-by-side, day-by-day with either woman and never see her gifts. Or glimpse them and not "get" it.

They remind me to be thoughtful and mindful so that I don't miss the miracles lurking all around me while I'm waiting for the spectacle that may never come.

I'm reminded too of how faith has transformed them: they have an inner joy and security that comes from basing their lives on faith.

Also, both women, but Lauren most visibly, believe, in a completely non-egotistical way, that God cares about every detail of their lives. Every detail. Especially where they're in an even small mess. They put it all in front of God. They believe everyone in their lives: husbands, boyfriends, children, friends, extended family, are all infinitely worthy of God's attention and care, and that it is their responsibility to carry all these needs to God. By constantly bringing the ordinary people in their lives before God, by taking them seriously enough to believe God wants to influence every bit of their lives for the good, they show an elevating love for the people around them. They infuse the people in their lives with an importance that makes them extraordinary. To me, these women show the emptiness of believing in an impersonal God. They reveal the value of faith in an ever-present, ever-active God.

Again, for all that I describe them as virtual saints, these are very ordinary people.

Though neither woman is a Quaker, this day-to-day deferral to God and attempt to discern God's will to guide all their actions seems congruent with early Quaker thought that God is not a God of a church building you inhabit an hour a week, but a God to guide all of life.

I'm also amazed at the timing of this brunch. I was fretting in the back of my mind about needing to get in touch with people like Lauren to let them know I was moving --and then Lauren called! It was almost as if God were telling her now is the time to see me before I leave. And if she didn't think it important to listen to God's voice, we might have missed this opportunity.

1 comment:

Regina said...

Gosh, what a beautiful post. This line made me smile...
"But remarkable as Lauren and Linda are, they go through life disguised as entirely ordinary people."
It's in those ordinary people that I try to look for and eventually end up seeing "that of God in everyone." It's amazing when that happens.
At First Day Meeting yesterday, someone got up to say that God is always with us... and I had to step back from that because I had never thought that before. God was always somewhere far off and maybe, just maybe, He came when I asked for help... but even in that, I never wanted to "bother" Him. As I learn more and open up, I find that statement to be true- and He is as near as that entirely ordinary person standing right next to me...
Thanks, Diane.