Cling to What Is Good

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you

because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

In September when my grampy was fading fast, all nestled mercifully in a blissful blanket of sleep, his days spent weaving in and out of dreams, he woke once to tell his hospice nurse that he had been to “the gate” but it was locked. She asked him when it would be opened again and, with that twinkle that always lingered in his bright blue eyes, he told her - perhaps the next month. I wanted to tell him that all he had to do was knock and they would let him in (Matt. 7:7), but he never woke long enough for us to chat. Instead, he waited patiently - as he always had. And in ‘the next month’, not long after my brother, he finally slipped through that pearly gate of goodness and grace. When he left – he was ready to go, and we were ready to let him. But my brother was a different story.

My brother’s death hit us without warning, splitting us open and breaking something within our souls that in the days that lingered long after, I thought might never heal. But, through the weeks and months that followed, as we learned to breathe again, God poured out his mercies on us all in magical ways, reminding me once more, that the same goodness and grace that pulled my dad’s dad and my brother from this world was everywhere.

In the endless sifting through frozen images to honor the lives of his father and son, my dad was given the painful yet precious gift of living this life with them again. My mom found a long-lost treasure that reassured her of God’s guiding hand in not only my brother’s beautiful, tragic life but in hers and my Pop’s as well. And my sister was visited by white butterflies; delicate fluttering wings of mercy popping up all over the place. At first, I doubted the magnitude of her sightings, as she can exaggerate a bit And then one day I was driving with her when she stopped mid-sentence to point out a little wisp of wonder flying beside us. The trees blurred by in the background while that fancy little fly, all dressed in white, just flitted about. A tiny little speck of light I never would have seen if it wasn’t for her. My little miracles contrastingly came to me in bold and brilliant colors bending across the sky in doubles, just when I needed them most. Soft and sacred rainbows of hope bending down from the heavens seemingly just for me, disguised as blazoned beacons of light for all the world to see. Our discoveries were diverse, yet they all seemed to whisper of the same truth. ~ This world is broken. But God is good, and He loves us so. We don’t need to understand it. We just need to believe in its magic.

I don’t think my mom’s lost treasure just appeared out of nowhere. And it is unlikely that wondrously white winged arthropods were following my sister around. Those prisms of promise that lifted my spirits were really just the common result of sunshine and rain, reminding us all how quickly storms can turn into brilliance. And maybe my dad’s sifting didn’t solve anything. But I don’t know if any of us would have discovered Gods goodness in these simple things if we had not been seeking it out. We were desperate in the darkness that rolled in after my brother was gone. And in the heavy shadow of his death we could have clung to many things. But we chose the good instead, even when it was hard to find. And the clinging allowed us to see the treasures He already had prepared for us. The sweetest secrets hidden in a very unlikely time in our lives. Secrets that didn’t just magically appear. Secrets that were always there, just waiting for us to notice them.

This year has been hard for a lot of us. If you were looking for darkness and dread, you would have certainly found them. They came, as they always do, in all shapes and sizes. But I have learned, that if I lift my eyes up and focus on what is good and true and right instead, light can break through the obscurity and I am able to see, in full color again, the promises of old. Like the Christ child ~ born into this same burdened world, laying in a trough strewn with golden threads of hay, bundled in a wrangle of rags, humble and human and heavenly from his first breath to his last. God in human form saying, “Here I am. I am with you. I know your pain and your struggle. But, look and see. There is goodness here too. Everywhere. Always.”

I do not believe we summon God’s gifts. God’s ways and works and wonders are constant. They do not stop. He’s been slipping them into the most unsuspecting places from the beginning of time. That precious gift bundled in a manger was not the first and it was certainly not the last. This world is swirling endlessly with hidden treasures, fluttering flurries of hope and pristine arcing promises of His goodness and grace. It’s easy to miss them in the mess of it all. But, if we take the time to sift and seek them out, I believe God can give us the eyes to see the magic. And once you see it, you can’t stop.

When my son first discovered how to read, I can remember driving down the highway as billboards whizzed past his window and him saying, in the sweetest most exasperated voice, “The words. They are everywhere!” Once he learned how to see them, he couldn’t stop reading them - even if they made him car-sick. God’s goodnesses are plastered all over this world just the same. And as I learn how to see them better, I feel like the five-year old version of my son strapped in for a long ride on a road to who knows where and I just can’t stop pointing them out.

Of all the good things in this mysterious life, my favorites will always be the four humans forever featured on the cover of my Christmas card and the fine fella who made them with me. They remind me to laugh in the wake of heartache and shame me for pulling my mask below my nose Living beside them has taught me that a mess is just the remnants of people living life. And there is no one I’d rather live this untidy life with, than them. It’s not just that they are mine. I actually really like them. In their almost grown-up versions of themselves, they are the kind of people I want to be around. They are good and kind and funny and fun and living this sometimes-dizzying good life with them has been my greatest gift. They don’t just make me better; they are a part of me – woven into the finest fibers of my being.

This weary wondrous world is full of magic, friends. And we get to choose how we live in it, from our first breath to our last. Yes, it’s a bit messy, but that’s just because we are in it together – living life. There are no sides. Those are just constructs we made up. It’s a sphere, all round and rolling together. I hope you see the beauty in it too. It is there. In all of us. And in all the cracks that stretch out between us. It always has been. And it always will be.

This Christmas I don’t hope you get what you are asking for or that you find what you are seeking. I know you will. I just pray you are looking with glittering eyes, the whole wide world around you, asking and searching for God’s sacred secrets, hidden in the most unlikely places and in all the good things plastered so perfectly all along the way. If you are having a hard time seeing them, just knock

Love ~ Tris

In a year full of trials and tribulations - we published a brilliant little book and sold over 400 copies just by word of mouth. This was our treasure. And YOU were a part of that magic. Thank YOU!!

Cling to What is Good... Romans 12:9