Almost let the magic of Christmas pass me by, before it was too late. But just in the nick of time, before the last minutes had passed, I managed to find it. Rather, it found me.
Earlier today, I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read, so I wandered into my mother’s room, and she handed me a book from her bedside table to read instead-until we found the other one, she said. Women Food and God by Geneen Roth didn’t immediately appeal to me, but it was exactly what I needed. I think I believe that things often happen for a reason–little things I mean, simple things that catch us off guard. God gives us the things that we need by allowing us to stumble into them or by letting them fall into our laps. What often seems just by chance or completely sloppy may be, somehow, strategic.
For example, I’ve been struggling a little the later half of this semester. I was homesick and a little depressed. I felt, for lack of a better word, empty. Before I left school to come home, I was on facebook and started a conversation with my St. Jude chaplain. I saw that she was online and thought to myself, ”I miss her. I think I’ll say hello.” The conversation led to plans, and the plans led to dinner with Lisa before I came home. Over dinner, I ended up talking to Lisa about everything I’d been feeling–emotional and spiritual. As she gave me the medicine I needed, the spiritual food I’d been hungering for, she said that she knew the minute I contacted her that I needed something. It seemed strange to me at first that she thought that, but after I thought about it some more it began to make sense. Call it my subconscious, call it the Universe, or call it God: something caused me to reach out to Lisa when I needed her most.
Now jump with me back to today. I’m looking for a certain book, and when I can’t find it, my mom hands me this one. And she has no idea what’s been going through my mind or that I need the words in this book so badly. But I did, and I do, and the book turns out to be an answered prayer (literally).
Simplicity. That’s the key to life, or at least to really living it.
“And suddenly you caught a glimpse of beauty and it’s as if someone opened the cage door and let you out of the iron vise of your mind. And not one thing has changed from the moment before but everything look and feels and is completely different.” –Geneen Roth, Women Food and God
So there it is. And, as much of a play on words as it is, it’s that simple…yet so difficult to grasp.
Close your eyes, and remember how it felt to be a child, how it felt to be trusting and peaceful and so sure that each moment was about to be the moment you’d been waiting for. Remember how it felt not to look at a clock constantly or in a mirror twelve times a day or at your cell phone every five minutes. Remember how it felt to breathe deeply and talk slowly and notice everything. Remember how it felt to live in the moment.
Somehow, the simplest of concepts, simplicity itself, is the most complicated. Somehow, our lives are all about complexity. But are we created to be so complex? Think about what we require to survive- food, air, water, and love. Is that all? How could it be that the list is so short?
If you truly live in the moment in every sense of the word, if you become yourself, not bound to your memories or consumed with imagining later moments and later days and a later future, then food becomes simply what air is to you, simply what sleep is to you—something that is required for survival, but something that seems silly to hoard or want more of than you need. When things don’t seem magical anymore, remember the power of music, the beauty of hearing a pretty voice combined with the twinkle of piano keys. Remember the way it feels to write, to type, to scrawl words in cursive with a particularly inky pin on a piece of paper.
When I had cancer, when I had chemo, food lost its hold on me because it made me nauseous. And it was then that I was able to find the beauty in simplicity. It was then that I was able to forget the complexity of a world that is concerned with dieting and superficiality. It was then that I was able to enjoy bathing my body, the feeling of soapy skin and hot water and lotion. When I had cancer, I had ample time, and so I was forced to notice what was around me, to see the sunlight as it flickered through the window and find the beauty in my little sister’s laugh.
And the noticing, the simplicity, the acceptance of beauty even though everything is as broken as can be—that’s where God is.
The past few months, I’ve somehow lost sight of simplicity, and because of that, I’ve lost sight of God. I’ve lost the ability to feel and work through my emotions without tying them to my eating patterns or stress or blaming them on too much schoolwork or being homesick. To put things simply, I’ve lost the ability to live in the moment. It’s been all about the rush, the planning, the tomorrow, the future.
But what about today? What about right now? What about this very breath? Isn’t that important, too? Doesn’t it deserve our attention? Isn’t it… everything?
I’ve felt a lot of guilt lately about not being completely happy or content with my life. After all, I have so much to be thankful for. I have my health back–my life back. But truth be told, I still have some things to work through, some feelings from last year that still need to be felt. And while that may not make sense to you, and while it may make me feel guilty, it simply is the way it is. And the only way I can work through everything, the only way I can keep living–and not just living, but thriving–is to live in the moment, this moment, every moment.
That’s what I’ve been missing lately. And just as God sent his Son to us in the most humble and unlikely of places, today He sent me the answer to my problems in the most unlikely of places–the book that I didn’t even want to read.