Rain drizzled out of May clouds. Just opening up my car door I glanced to my left and saw a very elderly lady sitting inside her old car. Her smile caught my attention.
It was so restful and real. The smile traveled past the curve of her lips and threaded through her wrinkles finding its resting place in her pair of twinkling eyes.
The smile beamed past the oxygen tubes weaving around her face and helping her breath.
I looked and saw her adjusting a cellophane wrapped spring bouquet. Bright blossoms spilled over her lap.
Now I was curious. Why was this very old woman sitting in the passenger seat of her car holding a bouquet, beaming?
I assumed it was probably a token of love by her very geriatric husband.
Closing my door I walked over to her and stepped inside the arc of the open door.
"Hello. I noticed your flowers." I didn't add and "Your electric smile."But I wanted to.
She didn't hesitate nodding enthusiastically, "Isn't life beautiful?"A simple statement.
I let her words sink into me and finally nodded.
A nursing aide came up behind me to shut the lady's car door.
There was no geriatric husband.
The little woman with the shining eyes seemed to suspect my question. The one I didn't have time to ask.
"These flowers are for my hair dresser."She explained smiling.
The nurse's aide didn't seem nearly as delighted as I was and quickly tried to shut her door. I managed to squeeze the old lady's hand and say, "Thank you."
The old car door heavily shut and the lady was gone.
I sat in my car letting the rain cut paths down my windshield.
It had been hard to nod my agreement to the old lady.
It was almost like she was heralding some great truth I had forgotten in her simple sentence of , "Isn't life beautiful?"Life hadn't seemed beautiful to me for so long. Or it seemed so long. At that point it had been ugly, uncomfortable, and seemingly unending sadness for seven months or so. But those seven months seemed so much longer. Every day seemed to snail pace. Occasionally my face would form a smile, but it wasn't often and my mind seemed locked into a permanent frown, or furrowed brow of despair. A smile never reached my heart.
I needed that sweet lady to speak those three words to me.
Because for all that life was filled with ugly and shot through with pain and heart ache it was still vividly and undeniably beautiful.
I needed the hope of those simple words.
If I would look past my personal storm and try to recognize it.
I knew a few other people deep in personal darkness of their own of different kinds and when my eyes would catch theirs I always tried to bravely smile. I knew it was hard for them to smile too, to remember that life is beautiful. That it had once been beautiful and it would be so again.
And honestly that even in the here and now the beauty didn't stop...
It appeared in the skipping of my girls feet as they dashed out the door to their new school. They loved it. Their enthusiasm evident.
Life was now more beautiful for them. New friends to share the day with, new people to know and love.
I had been careful to watch for beautiful displays of splendor in nature and hadn't been disappointed all winter and spring. Life was beautiful and the rebirth of spring confirmed it over and over.
The wisteria dripping down trees and cascading lavender blossoms intermixed between patches of weeds. The vases on my mom's table that housed all the blossoms she had cut from her own yard.
If I ever needed a tangible reminder that life was beautiful I needed only to look outside again.
My sister had found joy in new things unfolding and I had quietly listened.
She was beautiful to me and life was still beautiful and filled with possibility.
New friendships had blossomed even in the soil of sorrow fed by other people's wisdom, love, and most of all mercy.Old friendships had been reignited and cords had grown tighter. Compassion on both sides pulling us together and helping to ease hearts and cushion confused minds.
People were still reaching out and love was offered. Yes, life was beautiful.
Things had died in ugly ways, but new things had bloomed beautifully.
God was still here reaching out to me in the thick of my ugly. Offering me something different than I had known. I knew Him in a way I hadn't before. A deeper, dependent way. I understood things about Him that I had only talked about but not known. He was more beautiful to me. I knew in an unshakable way that God loved me now. And I had never really understood that before.
Yes life was beautiful because it was conceived and created by Him and crowned indelibly with His beauty. Everywhere.
Lastly, my baby had grown up. He had many firsts. Though the year had seemed barren, a bitter long drink my baby had thrived. His eyes bright blazing with newborn glory moving from an infant to a squealing, laughing dimpled boy pulling up and crawling everywhere.
Life was fresh for him and life was beautiful. He was beautiful. His squirming, curious self bearing the beautiful image of a beautiful God.
I have remembered that declaration of the old lady frequently. That she needed a nursing aide, relied on oxygen but still believed life was beautiful and wanted to bring spring beauty to her hair dresser.
She didn't realize at that moment how much her reminder would mean to me.
I've found myself trying to hope that for others.
Recently I got more ugly news. Very ugly. It wasn't my news but I knew the pain it would bring to someone I loved with all my heart. I couldn't speak for the first minutes following knowing the pain that was coming. I didn't want my loved one to have to face it. To be met with great loss.
My heart hurt knowing the crushing weight she would feel and yet she survived it.
One day at a time. Sometimes she would laugh and sometimes her eyes would spill the tears. We would do simple things together. Like eat pizza or cuddle on the couch together and laugh at little kids. We would do retail therapy as she called it and think about the way this dress looked on her rather than all the grief churning within. We would once again discuss this new outfit she got or watch her bake her symphony bar brownies. I squeezed her hand and found myself saying gently to her, "Life is still beautiful."No this current situation wasn't beautiful, but the God who held us together was.
Life is still beautiful because God is beautiful and He is here.
I have to repeat that to myself. Then have others repeat it back to me.
Life is beautiful because God breathed it into our lungs and paid everything to spend it with us both now and forever. That eclipses all of this temporary ugliness. Even mine. His beauty renames us, remakes us, restores us. His beauty covers us if we will wear it. I'm so thankful.