at the end of the day

I knew I wanted to get my 5pm for The Hours while away at June Lake. I had my Mamiya 645 loaded up with Fuji Reala and waited for 5pm.  My sweet husband was driving me to a spot I had seen the day before. There was one problem.  We were in a huge fight.  Not the kind where there is a small misunderstanding and we can work it out quickly with some patience and explaining.  The kind where old wounds are rubbed raw and we both are sitting in pain.  We needed one of us to be brave and vulnerable, but stubborn suffering wasn’t allowing any heroes.

When Andy finally got me to the location I wanted to shoot, I was in tears.  I didn’t want to shoot while so upset at him. I didn’t want to look back at my 5pm and remember this moment. However, my image was due when I got back into town and I had no other choice.  So wandered the area, shot a few frames, and got back into the car. The short time away from each other had allowed both of our hearts to be softened.  We talked.  We understood. We apologized.  We held each other.

Last week at my compassion class my teacher read this poem.  It reminded me of my 5pm image. I had not loved perfectly, nor was I loved perfectly.  Still,  I know the freedom that comes from a real and vulnerable relationship. I know the beauty of being completely known and completely loved.  I know that I have the grace not only from my husband, but from my God.  I know that every day that ends with pain, I have the hope of a new morning.   I decided my 5pm wouldn’t just remind me of the pain and imperfection of that day, but of the love and grace that was given.

May this prayer bless you as it has blessed me.

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I seek your presence, O God, 

not because I have managed to see clearly

or been true in all things this day, 

not because I have loved perfectly or

reverenced all those around me, 

but because I want to see with clarity, 

because I have tasted freedom, and joy, and healing

and I desire to love as I have been loved. 

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Renew my inner sight, 

make fresh my longings to be true

and grant me the grace of loving this night

that I may end the day as I had hoped to live it, 

that I may end this day restored to my deepest yearnings, 

that I may end this day as I intend to live tomorrow, 

as I intend to live tomorrow. 

From the book “Sounds of the Eternal”, by Philip J Newel

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To read more on prayer, visit Susan’s blog.

the ugly side of grace

Grace is a miracle.  Poems have been written about its beauty.  Songs have been sung declaring its praise. Stories have been told explaining its power.  And in each of these, there is first something horribly wrong and ugly that is in need of grace’s gentle touch.

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Just over eight years ago, I had the worst day of my life.  My husband told me that he no longer loved me, that he was in love with someone else, and that our marriage was over.  Just typing that sentence still breaks my heart.

We sold our big, beautiful home.  We both hired lawyers and started the divorce proceedings.   I started therapy. Our children started therapy. He started therapy. And I tried to start over.  I rented a small home in the neighboring city.  I tried my best to take care of the kids and create a new normal.   And I cried. I cried about the lies. I cried for my children. I cried at the thought of being alone.  I also prayed.  I prayed for hope. I prayed for joy.  I prayed that my soon to be ex-husband would be hit by a bus.  And secretly, in the depth of my soul, I prayed that by some miracle, we could be together again.

As the months went on, my lying, cheating husband began having a change of heart. Friends and family would come and tell me how he had changed.  How he was gentler… how he had been humbled.  I, understandably, wanted nothing to do with him.  I was not going to be a “weak” woman and take him back.  I remember sitting across from my dear friend, Susan.  She was telling me how much he had changed and how much he wanted his wife back.  I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I will never, never take that bastard back.”  Without flinching, she replied with perfect love, “I don’t think never means what you think it means.”

The word never did not mean what I thought it meant.  This broken and afraid man had changed and he did want our marriage restored.  He started to pursue me.  He started asking for grace.

I had a huge decision to make.  Do I risk everything and take back a man who had stomped and crushed my heart?  Or, do I risk everything and start my life all over without the only man I had ever loved?  I was afraid, but I knew how I wanted my story to read.  I knew I wanted the miracle.  So, I sided with grace.  It was the most courageous thing I have ever done.  I learned that weak women don’t take their cheating husbands back.  Kick ass women do.

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One of my favorite songs is Grace by U2.  Here is the last verse:

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

And that is the main problem with grace… it only comes after pain.  Grace can only intervene when there has been heartbreak and hurt.  It was made for the ugly things.

I am not going to lie, it wasn’t easy.  The divorce was so far along, that we had to pay our lawyers to stop it.   For the first few years, many of our days were painful and rough.  However, now that I am this far from the climb out of the ugliest place of my life, I can see the fruit of grace.  My marriage is a place of utter safety and freedom.  My husband and I feel more loved and known than we ever have before, and in a deep and honest way.   We are naturally hopeful in seemingly hopeless situations.  When life throws us or our friends a curve ball, we have hope that love will win and time will heal.  Mostly, we are extremely graceful.  Not only with each other, but with ourselves.

Now, when I hear poems, songs, or stories of grace, I hear my story.  I feel the pain and ugliness that must come.  I cry for the hopelessness that must proceed it.  I morn the dreams that must die.  All the ugly is worth knowing and feeling the fullness of grace… to completely feel hope… to completely feel the rebirth.  I know that choosing grace was not only the craziest thing I have ever done, but also the bravest.  It gave me one of the most beautiful miracles I have ever witnessed… my marriage.
I am doing this blog prompt with some amazing women.  Start with Susan’s blog, then click on through to read more about grace.