It’s true you often can’t recognize grace until weeks or months or even years after it takes root in your life. I think this is the case most particularly with the GIANT variety. Like the Zinnia seeds I planted this afternoon that will end the summer as three-foot plants with large, showy blossoms — some grand blessings take their time coming to glory.
The best example I know is my beautiful, broad family. I have been married two times, you see, and that road brought me not only a precious daughter, but two remarkable sons and a gorgeous Monetti branch on my expanding family tree. How blessed I am to be a part of that clan, a group that loves big, in a very Italian way.
Still the point I want to make is that I have had the incredible fortune to keep all the family I collected along the way.
Just yesterday my husband, Tim, and I spent the day with my cousins Sarah and Jean, two woman I adore with such fervor I wish they were my sisters. They are sisters, and over the many years I have known them they have touched me in ways deep and lasting. These women know what it is to live whole-heartedly, and the force of that generosity reshapes my soul just a little each time I am with them. But here’s the thing. Sarah and Jean came into my life as part of my first marriage family. Instead of letting me go as that changed shape, they held on. When I remarried, they simply broadened the circle.
This collecting is a grace that blooms in a thousand ways: the continuing friendship I have with Eliza’s Dad, Bill, the man who brought to my life the gracious, loving, Ellis branch; his father and sister, whom Tim and I also visited on Saturday and who, with love in their eyes reminded me There are all kinds of families ; my precious and beautiful niece, Emma.
I think about those people and realize, here at this middle-aged point in my journey, how profound it all is. Relationships function like a kind of gravity that keeps us centered, grounded, connected, a force that mercifully keeps us from too much haphazard drifting — something we are wildly capable of as individuals. And the greater miracle, I think, is how God intends for a family tree to change, linking and splitting and growing all through life, the canopy spreading and becoming more diverse.
I do know this. God has blessed me with a husband with a heart big enough to let all that light shine in our lives.
And so we spent this past Saturday driving South Carolina’s soulful backroads together, Tim and I, our eyes filled with the green-gold of new Spring leaves, our hearts filled with the love of our broad, beautiful family.
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