Yesterday shifted from a maelstrom of frustration to a moment of grace right when my daughter Emma and I were ready to give up hope.
I had spent the two previous days dealing with bureaucracy and trying to get Emma enrolled in a Concepts of Biology course at our local community college. Because her high school schedule was completely impacted, it was a necessity to approach her course work differently than the norm. The plan has always been to have her attend Bakersfield College during the Summer.
She took the assessments, she did all the new student activities and then we discovered one of her assessment scores was lower than the required pre-requisites. It had appeared we had driven into a brick wall of bureaucratic ugliness. Our final strategy was to meet with an educational counselor and plead for mercy.
At the college level, the mother isn’t the driving force of one’s educational planning, it is the student.
The counselor asked Emma’s permission to be present. She sat me down in the corner and spoke directly with Emma. Emma would ask me questions occasionally, I would respond only to Emma. When it seemed as if we were not going to make progress, a very stressed out Emma stood up and said, “Let’s just get out of here.”
The counselor said, “Wait a minute, Emma, I have an idea. This is very unusual but since you scored in transfer level writing and you are only a sophomore in high school, let’s see if we can get something to work for you.”
This counselor called the people involved with assessment and pleaded Emma’s case.
She said things like, “This young lady is exceptional” and “I will take full responsibility.” She got Emma the opportunity to re-take the test that was holding her back from registration.
Emma was ecstatic. I was frightened. My thoughts immediately floated into the “Oh, no, she can’t have another disappointment right now.” I asked the counselor for testing advice. She gave one simple thought, “Don’t rush. Take your time.”
Using her yearbook as her photo ID, Emma slid into her testing spot while I waited outside. An hour later she appeared with a very wide smile. “I did it!” she said. “Perfect score!” She soared up the score brackets going even higher than where she needed to be to register.
I believe part of the reason was this counselor – a woman who had only known her for a few minutes – believed in her enough to go to bat for her. A stranger advocated for her.
To say our days were made would be an understatement.
I call this short chapter, “Grace offered to Emma by a stranger.”
Grace arrives in an assortment of packages. When we are open to receiving it, it seems to magically appear. I like to think of it in this way: when I hold my arms open and raise them to the sky to receive, I am able to receive. When I cross my arms over my chest in a defensive position, I am less able to receive.
It makes perfect sense when I choose to remember this simple truth.
I hear a mourning dove and a starling singing together outside my window. A few moments ago I heard chickens clucking from across the street. They wander out of the chicken coop at my neighbor’s home on a somewhat regular basis.
These are the sweet moments when I settle my forehead into my hand and lean against it, allowing it to support my mind which is oftentimes thinking too much, to just take a short siesta. I fall off to sleep and suddenly I am dreaming in little dribs and drabs of dialogue and images.
It hasn’t been a week with many supersized doses of delight.
I have been facing each day, though, as if I am rushing through a revolving door.
Do you know the feeling?
It doesn’t give much time to be aware of slight moments of grace and wonder you can meet and together create a better feeling than I had the moment before.
I know the everything-is-perfect school of thought as I am sure you know it, too. Most of the time I can hang out there, but today, no way.
I have had enough of the unreturned phone calls, the times when people don’t respond and then a moment of grace appears and in an instant everything shifts.
The moments of grace I am choosing to build upon are the counselor’s defense of Emma, completely unexpected, and the birdsong, the chicken song, the sleeping of Walt on my toes as I took a rest yesterday.
You may have noticed the defensive, arms over my chest position in “today, no way.”
Drops of grace open those arms so that you and I may begin to receive more and more and more again and again and again.
I am open to more of that. How about you?
Are you ready to raise your arms to receiving?
Are you ready to do the receiving dance?
Today, I am looking back at this moment - and together in writing community we spent time in GRACE. If you would like to write with us - the moment-in-time is saved in a blog post with a replay of the live stream experience here.
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