Fresh Living

butterflyhand.jpgThis morning on my way to work I listened to a wonderful 18-minute podcast about breasts, miracles, and kindness. Part of the Moth’s story-telling series (an organization that gathers people to share spoken-word stories around the country), “A Flash of Hope” by David Ellis Dickerson is a hilarious and moving story about a former fundamentalist Christian who has lost his way. And finds it through a series of events that might not on the surface sound inspiring–getting flashed by a woman in a bikini, a “heartwarming wet t-shirt contest,” etc.

The main lesson he gets is that when a miracle moment changes your life, when a deep hope is answered, don’t mess with it by trying to recreate it–the incredibly human hungry urge of “More!” He quotes a religion professor of his who said people build an “empty scaffolding” around miraculous moments to recreate the circumstance in which they occurred in an attempt to make them happen again. Essentially, Dickerson says, you must let the butterfly that landed on your hand fly away. Because that feeling of lightness and grace you feel when it magically alights will not be sustained if your enclose it in your sweaty fist.

It’s not exactly news, this, but it kind of pierced through me this morning because I’ve been doing exactly that, for months. I had a miraculous path-crossing with someone who opened my heart in a kaboom way. And then, poof, he flew away to deal with his own issues even though I’m 99% sure he also felt some perfect, sunlit grace. And I’ve been so sad, and so, so have been making the experience about him instead of something that moved through him, and us, and me. I have so very not been raising my head to the source of the magic–god, for lack of a better word. And instead have been pining after the person who seemingly holds the secret to that experience, and therefore my happiness, and wondering why the hell he’s playing keep-away with the miracle. “Dude! No fair. Give it baaack!”

So, thank you David Ellis Dickerson, for telling us about the girl who flashed you and woke you up with a startling, utterly surprising moment of vibrancy and light and joy. And then reminding us that the source of joy is not in the actual people or experience. Or certainly not in a way that can be held. It’s actually incredibly good news that no one can walk away with our happiness, but somehow very hard to process–to, as poet Marge Piercy puts it, “love with the hands wide open,” to appropriately redirect our longing to a more infinite source of the cosmic goodies.

You can listen to David Ellis Dickerson’s Moth podcast here. And find out more about the Moth storytelling series here.

How do you hold miracles lightly?

[Image by Dolfingirl:]


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