Each morning I am serenaded awake by a choir of chirping, singing birds. They arouse me enough so that I rise a little and look out the large window at the foot of my bed to see the first light of day over the Green Mountains to the east. I am blessed with a view of the sunrise from where I sleep, and every morning it's new, full of hope; bright and beckoning.
For all I know my avian alarm clock could be the twenty children who died in Newtown. It might be all of the ancestors I have yet to meet. Perhaps it's a gathering of all of the beautiful humans I knew on the cancer floor at Fletcher Allen who left the corporeal realm and now come to tell me each morning...rise, sleepy Melissa...rise and love all that you see.
Several weeks ago when a lovely gentleman named Jack and a truly delightful woman named Sally introduced themselves to me at the Peru Church and asked if I would be interested in leading service this summer at the Landgrove Meeting House, my immediate reaction was, Of course! How could I not say yes to their trust in me and their instinctive impulse to invite me to share in their summer worship after just one encounter? I had to believe that God was in the room directing traffic and that the answer to their unexpected invitation could only be Yes. Yes!
Have I ever led a worship service? Do I know the first thing about it? Does the thought terrify me a little? Am I going to do it anyway?
No, no, yes and hell yes.
It turns out that those are the right answers. Apparently a variation of the phrase, Do not be afraid appears in the Bible no fewer than 365 times. Wow! Once for each day of the year? Imagine that. Being a little afraid is the healthy juice of life and there's no other way to know what we're good at and what we're supposed to be doing than to give something a go. And, really, if a little bit of fear isn't part of that scene, then something's wrong. Saying No is a dull and self-defeating answer to life's attempts to get you to grow. Take it from me people, God's got your back; don't be afraid to take that Yes out for a test-drive.
What I find is that every time I start to second guess the mysterious feelings growing in my gut, people show up and, with their kindness, with their observations and with their love, they propel forward on this brambly path. This past weekend my friend, Tara, whom I hadn't seen in...three years or so, after a warm Saturday afternoon visit at her home in Greenwich, sent me a message that said, "So wonderful to see you. You haven't changed. Except that you are even more serene." When I read it I was struck by her generosity and also by the fact that she really is right. Though my life often feels like a bubbling cauldron of curiosity and uncertainty and metamorphosis, in the center of it all, I feel grounded and peaceful. I do feel a sense of serenity and it was a deeply moving moment when Tara gifted me with that observation.
Coming home yesterday, after a warm and wonderful weekend in the company of friends, exploring new places, being with kids and dogs and watching good hockey and a parade of kids on bikes and proud veterans; eating hot dogs and watermelon and sitting with good, good people poolside, in kitchens and in church, Coco and I made our way up I87, past all the congestion in Albany and Saratoga into the quiet of the Adirondacks where the traffic thinned out and the mountains and sky prevailed. My chest felt too small to hold everything my heart was seeking to express, everything it had absorbed.
I walk through my days now seeing God in the face of everyone. It's like I have finally found my way past the static, past the infomercials, past the depressing newscasters, to station WDVN. I see the elegance, I see the whole, I see the tiniest look or act of kindness or flower and my heart just cracks wide open. I cry all the time. The world is almost too much, too green, too full of the grace of God. The divine that permeates everything, that permeates me and you, has taken hold, and the only answer, the only response is Yes.