Today's rant is called Sweetness. It's a chapter from my new book Life: a love story which is a near-complete collection of prayers, lessons, meditations, and ponderings. I'm getting very excited about sharing it with you.
We live life on levels -- the physical, the mental, the emotional, the spiritual. We can lose ourselves in any one of them and forget all else. We exist in broad strokes, according to large principals, as part of a mass of humanity and in big chunks of context like gender, class, race, nationality. It’s easy to forget the ceaseless nuance.
Sweetness, however, like God, is in the details.
What I love most about living in the Midwest is that the weather provides a continuous display of sweet moments. As I write, here on a nearly June morning at my home in the woods, I’m watching the sun play off the broad leaves of my house plant. It’s an astonishing show of light and green and wood set against a backdrop of light and green and wood. It’s a rather magical day. The lake is calm despite the torrential rains we had last night. Usually, under these circumstances, one can hear the traffic on the highway a mile away. But today, it is uncommonly quiet. Besides my breath, there is only birdsong, and it is about to break my heart open.
Sweetness does not demand any particular setting. It is revealed in the heavy moment as well as the light, but it is always contained within a moment. And the moment is a portal through which we are transported from the mundane or easily-overlooked to the personally profound. If we care to go there.
Sweetness is found in the moment you reach for, and find, your favorite coffee mug. Or in clean pajamas after a hard day. Or cool water against a weary face. A stubborn patch of lichen peeking through the melting ice. The smell of live mesquite or Palo Santo smoking. A cat’s ear. A child’s skin. The soft rug underfoot. A hair tie when you need it. Readers where you left them. The whistle from the kettle you forgot you put on, reminding you there will soon be tea on a cold day.
Sweetness cannot be planned for; it must be happened upon. In other words, we can’t go looking for it, nor do we need to. But we may want to prepare a welcoming place by softening the mind and the belly and the ardent gaze. In fact, round off all the hard edges, and sweetness will surely rush in like an ill-timed whisper at a small but important off-Broadway play. Your life, no matter how hard, cruel or absurd, wants to drown you in gifts of sweetness. When you decide to accept them, you become a vessel for the expression of sweetness. Your thoughts sweeten, your gestures sweeten, your words and actions sweeten until it becomes impossible to feel harshness or to taste bitterness anywhere. Even the savagery within can be touched by the compassionate weight of your innocent, still-unfolding sweetness.
Sweetness is both small and overriding. One small sweetness savored charges all the particles in the cosmos in transcendental ways. A real-life filter that renders everything a little more alive, pearlescent and redeemable. It doesn’t matter who you are or are not, what you have done or have not done, or what you think you deserve or do not. Sweetness is the universe’s gift to give, and it gives it with reckless abandon. Little tokens, dropped into your pocket, to let you know you are loved.