This past year has been one of the strangest periods I've ever lived through. Last October the world seemed to freeze when the recession hit. Everyone hunkered down, afraid to move, make decisions or spend money.
How bizarre is it when selling a house or finding even a part-time job becomes the stuff of miracles? All the normal course of life we took for granted vanished.
For too many people, it's like starting over. They've lost homes and jobs and feel like they are at a dead end. It's not simply a matter of going out and finding another job at this point. Let's pray the economy thaws soon.
I'm reminded of when I was young and poor and working my way through college. Many hopes for a bright future but the present reality was a slim budget and a non-material lifestyle. I lived by faith and found pleasure in people, nature, my own creativity and growth. The simple little things, like walking through the woods and cooking a meal with a friend. And I had the pleasure of seeing my modest needs met through what seemed to be miraculous circumstances--often through the spontaneous kindness of friends and strangers.
Now, while I wait for spring, I'm experiencing again the joy and peace of living by faith and celebrating the small blessings that come our way.
My daughter Nikki is expecting a baby in two weeks. A couple of months ago I asked my friend Candace if there was a good consignment shop locally to buy baby clothes. She said that she had just sorted through her daughters' clothes and pulled out six months to 18 months and did I want them? And I could have her high-tech gorgeous baby swing, too. Candace is a real Georgia peach.
This isn't the only generosity that has come Nikki's way. Her friends and co-workers both threw showers and her in-laws bought almost all the baby furniture she needs. How wonderful is that? Nikki and Chris are a typical young couple just getting started on their career tracks. Nikki will be attending graduate school starting January. Her financial aid came through and it will pay full tuition and extra to live on, another blessing.
My brother in Maine is starting over, too, with rueful good humor about the turn his life has taken. He was laid off from a very good job with the railroad and ended up separating from his wife and moving in with my mother, a widow. Not exactly where he wanted to be at age 40 plus. He has a part-time chroming business that will likely be very lucrative once he can get his shop up and running again, but it wouldn't work in my mother's house. So she suggested he build a shop/apartment on her land. He put the word out and the appliances and fixtures for the apartment were free or practically given to him! All the building materials have been bargains, too--he is building a 24 x 24 shop for less than $3,000.
I still own a house in New Hampshire (waiting for my miracle!) and the friends living there burn a lot of wood. I just had to get the chimneys cleaned this year. The price for that has almost doubled, to $250 for two chimneys. When I mentioned it, they told me that one of their fathers had the tools and did it for free. Another small blessing.
When we're prosperous and busy, we often don't even see or need the small blessings. We can buy whatever we want. But right now we are in economic winter and every ray of sunshine, every promise of spring, is welcome. And when we're back in full summer, I hope never to forget the miracle of small blessings.