There are times when a comment left on my blog leaps off the screen, splashing my face with the cool water of affirmation, of prophetic words and inspiration. Such were Alex‘s words on my last post, “..kinda like storyboard…” I’m sure that those who leave comments have no idea their words could be so meaningful to the recipient. But a plethora of puzzle-piece-thoughts locked into place when I read those words. THIS is what I’m doing, when I sketch out these thumbnail gifts I’m given in the course of a day: I’m creating a storyboard of my life.
I’m familiar with storyboards. I’m currently writing storybooks. Books which definitely have a kid-appeal with Genevieve as their main character, but which have a message that reaches across ages, as all good children’s books should. For these books, I’ve created storyboards, small thumbnail sketches that lay out the ebb and flow of the book’s images; a way to see the whole of the book as it is portioned into parts. A visual chronicling of the book’s scope.
Thus is the splash of recognition here: these numbered small squares, with scribbled words and images, chronicle my life. Not merely the events of my life, not really even that at all. But behind the scenes, or under the surface of the water. The places where I often forget to look. Places where I must dive down to see, swim around in for a while to capture the beauty that undergirds me, to feel myself buoyed and buoyant by the sustaining waters. My tendency is to whirl around on the surface like a water bug, jet-skiing hither and thither. These small squares are moments where I jump off the ski, swim for a bit, float around, and experience all the treasures I’ve been given, right here, in the midst of now.
I’m continuing to read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. What a gift this little book is in and of itself…reminding me, calling me to what I’ve surely known before and what I’ve made efforts to do in the past, but needed sorely to be re-born to. And this is where Alex’s comment splashed again: I have, in many ways, been about this for many many years. All the paintings, all the drawings, all the sketches, journals, creations in knit and crochet, cloth and paper have been chronicles of the beauty I’ve been granted. And the beauty that I seek. Some creations were executed in the frantic search for the beauty–where is it, where is it, where is it? While others have been a proclaiming—it’s right here, it’s right here, it’s right here. The continuous line drawings come to mind.
The difficulty lies in the not-so-beautiful parts of our lives. Places where pain and weariness meet. As I’ve been making these thumbnails, I’ve been asking, “How do I see gifts in the midst of the ups and downs of diabetes? How do I see beauty there?” Two nights ago, we had tornado-like thunderstorms roll through waking me at 2:45 am. I crawl downstairs to watch the news and see if I need to gather my family into our downstairs bathroom. No, it has passed just south of us. But I’m awake. I walk past my youngest daughter’s room and think…perhaps I should test her to see what her blood sugars are. My husband had taken the midnight shift and she was a bit high, but not terrible. Something held me there. I tested. 81. Not horribly low by any means, but when she was 197 less than 3 hours ago, where her sugars were headed was evident. I wake her, feed her sugar and milk, kiss her off to sleep again, and hope that I sleep for another hour or two before having to get up and start the day.
As I sit in the 5:30 am bleariness with three empty boxes drawn on the journal before me, I chronicle some gifts. The haunting question rolls in: what of the dark places? What of the 3 am testing and the near tornado night? And it dawns on me as it comes up the horizon: The storm was a gift to waken me. To wake up my sleepy senses so that I would test my dear Type 1 daughter. Diabetes does not sleep. My Father knows this and knew I needed to be wakened.
I feel a sense of awakening with each thumbnail I scribble down. I find I’m leaving my journal open to run over and sketch them down. I’m writing words in a tiny purse-book so that I can make thumbnails later. I’m realizing there are many ways to chronicle these gifts: sketches, words, colors, photographs, yarn, cloth, songs. I’m sure there are more.
I sincerely hope you can to find a way to see and chronicle the gifts that lay at your feet as you sail through your day. These tiny gifts are having a huge impact on me. I know they will for you.