"Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb." ~ Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B. "A Tree Full of Angels"
Symbolism was in the past absolutely lost on me. I am not referring to the symbolism, metaphor and foreshadowing found in novels and poetry. I am a "trained" English major so the constant search for those other meanings in any book I start is the main reason I read at a snail's pace compared to others. Decades separated from University I continue to read for content as if the final exam is imminent.
Until recently life's coincidences (there are none) and angels brought to me from somewhere came and went, blessed my pathway without any recognition of the immediate or future impact these would have on my life.
I was blind.
I write three gratitudes almost every morning. Some days it can be difficult to formulate the few, the "3." I have begun to train myself to look beyond my negative undercurrents and pain to notice what is going on around and within me. A sampling from the last few months are:
Songbirds, beautiful cool morning, wife, sons, daughter, family, warm day, writing, daily meditations, our Golden Retriever Cali, snow, feeling healthy, feeling positive about life, feeling (at all), life, sparrows, blue skies, life (often mentioned), beauty all around, days getting longer, cardinals (birds), Cardinals (baseball team), spring cleaning, beauty all around (also often mentioned), angels past and present :)This ability to look beyond the immediate, pathetic and depressing that is often thrust in our faces can be achieved through months and years of commitment to ourselves and doing those little, silly things like the gratitudes.
At some point we can notice this training paying dividends.
A years or so ago I noticed a man, probably in his thirties with rugged good looks, likely dressed to perform the task of a trained craftsman. He carried a backpack over one shoulder that had a three-foot-long level protruding vertically from a large zippered pocket.
I had to laugh.
"I know there's some symbolism here, if not even a life metaphor," I privately grinned.
"Life is like a carpenter's level thrust into a backpack - Grasshopper!"Perhaps this was meant as a reminder that everything we need is within our reach if we simply allow ourselves to reach out - or perhaps not!
I learned that the man carrying the level was a bricklayer, certainly a metaphor for living life one moment (brick) at a time. I searched for even deeper meanings by Googling carpenter's levels and found that these are also referred to as SPIRIT (!) levels, but was dismayed to learn the term is derived from the liquid, usually ethanol, used in the bubble vials!
I was hoping for something much more metaphysical and spirit-ual.
Sometimes deep meanings may not come to us immediately. Sometimes we're not ready to receive the gifts the Universe has for us. Sometimes there are not any deep meanings at all. It can be enough that we notice and appreciate the experiences the Great Creator makes available to us if only we take the time to seek these out.
Sometimes it's enough to smile.
I am grateful I saw the man with the spirit level. I am grateful I spoke with this "symbol" and learned he was not just a symbol but a craftsman with skills far beyond my own. I am grateful for the ability to laugh at myself and my hubris for trying to mine some deep meaning from a bricklayer's tool.
Sometimes we can be grateful to be aware enough to experience all that the Universe has to offer us if we just want to see beyond our own mire. We can let let it go, get out of our heads for the moment and simply move on.
And one day we'll look back and realize there WAS a reason for the encounter with that bricklayer or any angel who comes our way and how, without knowing, the encounter helped carry us along our recovery journey.
Breathe, Trust, Laugh, Seek, Hope, Love and See, and we'll be OK.
"You can observe a lot of things just by watching" ~ Yogi Berra