There are long-awaited joys and eagerly anticipated treasures. I like the thrill of the waiting, the excitement as I cross off calendar dates, inching closer to the prize. I am a fan of the knowing. I delight in paper chains and use treats as motivation to endure shallow days.
But there is something about unexpected blessings that whisk my breath away, climbing upon my shoulders with the weight of gold. There is an unparalleled gift of the surprise, powerful above all to veer a day into a course on fulfillment. Just as the piece of sky that falls on a sunny day can crumble routine in a flash, such is the force of a kindness that I never saw coming.
I spent the evening huddled around my puppy as she shook and cowered, certain that firework bullets would be invading her couch as any moment. Tail tucked and burrowed under my legs, I couldn’t explain the concept of celebration or point out the pretty lights during the five hours that neighbors had fun on July 4th. I gave too many treats, shut the windows and turned up the tv volume, hoping to convey safety with soft pats and noise. By midnight, the sparks had ended and I turned on the computer for one last email glimpse before bed and there it was – the unexpected jewel.
As a writer, I write to help myself, composing lessons of healing that I need to hear, stringing phrases of hope that guide me to my own wholeness. As I writer, I speak my truth explore my heart as a destination. I write for clarity and balance. I write to uncover my voice and study my soul. But there is a secret wish lingering behind the page, the unspoken dream that my words might touch others, leaving a mark of honesty upon their journey.
As a writer, there is no sweeter blessing than hearing that my words made a difference to someone else, that they struck a meaningful chord or touched hidden joys. The jewel awaiting me last night appeared in my inbox, a note forwarded by an editor who had published one of my articles: “this is for you... it's not often articles make such an impact... so take pleasure in this!” I sat back after finishing this reader’s letter, awestruck with her message and grateful for her kindness. To hear that my article “had a profound effect” and that it “went a long way toward healing my heart and...her words broke through somehow and ‘made sense’ to me” sang with healing for my own self, patching insecurities and doubts with her affirmations. It was an unexpected pot after a bumpy rainbow, reminding me of how powerful words can be and how we can never know the ripples originating with simple strands of letters.
There are days when the joy seems too much, celebrations where I try to save some for later, becoming overwhelmed with too much gladness to truly appreciate. There are days where blessings pour forth and everything appears shiny; days when laughter spills over sharp edges and friends flow through hours. There are holidays and birthdays, graduations and special occasions. There are ‘firsts’ and honorable mentions, sunshine arriving at the doorstep, bows tied with ribbons of fulfillment. These are usually the times I have anticipated, preparing myself for the happiness as I try to stockpile it in corners of my soul for the dry months. Anticipation can also backfire, building up a moment until nothing in reality could possibly fulfill its shoes. But still, I value the excitement of promised bliss, needing the carrot at the end of stick to trudge on.
However, at the end of a long day, yawning in the dark beside a worn-out puppy, I anticipate nothing. So the email explaining that my words worked “a miracle” in her life floats above all joys. This sense of contentment is unfamiliar, a knowing that something is right in my world and that I am finally finding my footing. Maybe I’ll run out of articles to write or will never earn enough to pay my rent. Maybe I’ll be uninspired next month or bow under shades of misery and pessimism. Maybe the sunshine will cease and rosy glasses uninspiring. Maybe. But for tonight, the words of a reader have brought me peace. Just as my words touched her, her comments unwrapped trinkets of satisfaction and purpose, lending hope to my evening and delight through my veins.
As I planner, I like to know. As a compulsive list-maker and organizer, I prefer tidy schedules detailing joy with asterisks. But today I am grateful for the gifts of surprise.
Today I am blessed by the unexpected.