“When you’re feeling kicked to the curb, look for the grace.”
That’s what my head said when I passed over these golden petals in the gutter.
When we’re at our lowest, this is exactly what grace can look like.
A few moments after passing over the flowers, from the Audible book on my iPhone, I heard the narrative voice of Eckhart Tolle say, “We are a species that has lost its way. Everything natural, every flower or tree, and every animal have important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen.”
Paying attention is the thing, really.
It seems we have lost our way in America. So much drama, so much bickering, and contention—there’s loss, grief, fear, division. We seem to be directionless, wandering. And yet, I can’t help but think of the words by J.R.R Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
There is hope.
When it seems we’ve lost our way, it’s good to keep our heads up, literally and figuratively. It’s something so simple. Looking up can give us warning of clear and present danger, and maybe we’ll even see signposts to the better path.
Still headed toward the main trailhead, I dropped down into a dirt path from the street. Turning the corner on my bike, I saw a cluster of police cars parked askew in a place where you wouldn’t normally see vehicles. As I got closer, I saw that in the center of all the commotion, the cops were speaking to a lone woman. As I pedaled through the area, I wondered if this woman had just had an unfortunate encounter with the man whose police-sketched face appears on signs posted along this trail. I hoped she was okay. And I wondered why none of the cops were stopping me, saying “hey, we’re looking for a predator today, so you know, best steer clear.” One cop just cutely waved to me as I passed through.
Later, toward the end of my ride, with my head down and deeply immersed in my Audiobook, I pedaled fast under the summer sun, determined to beat the afternoon heat, and get home sooner rather than later.
Hence, I was not looking up.
In a flash, between my spinning wheels, a rattlesnake reared his necky-head up (*and flashed his pearlies at me), seeming to be mulling over whether to chomp at my ankles. Thank goodness for my cat-like reflexes as I pulled my feet up practically over my head like a contortionist cat and coasted over him.
Phew, near miss.
Now reminded to keep my head up—and not ten yards down the trail, I spied another one up ahead—his buddy was inching across the path ahead of me. This time, though, I had a warning.
(Side note: I then remembered that the day before, I had cracked a joke about being a professional snake-milker and I wondered if these two snakes had gotten wind somehow and didn’t like being made fun of, not one bit.)
When we think we might be lost, when we may or may not be in danger, if we stop, look and listen, and most importantly, if we keep looking up, there is hope.
When I am teachable, when I pay attention, I see evidence of mercy, protection, and clear proof of a Creator. I learn lessons from simple nature. Sometimes it may seem like teeny petals, but gathered together, it’s a blanket of grace.
Pedaling through, we can find our way.
*might be an exagggggeration