A Single Leaf or Everywhere

Photo via Flickr user Matt Newfield
Photo via Flickr user Matt Newfield

Look at the two extremes. Maybe you find truth in Samuel Beckett– that we’re very much alone and it’s scary and annoying and it smells like dirty feet and the most you can hope for is that periodically someone will offer a hand or a rag or a tiny word of encouragement just when you’re going under. The redemption in Beckett is so small: in the second act of Waiting for Godot, the barren dying twig of a tree has put out a leaf. Just one leaf. It’s not much…Or maybe truth as you understand it is 180 degrees away– that God is everywhere and we are all where we’re supposed to be and more will be revealed one day. –Anne Lamott

I imagine that for most of us truth is experienced both ways at different times in our life. Some days all we have to grasp onto is that one singular leaf on a dying tree branch. Other days it seems that the joy is almost too much to bear as it pulses all around us. One of my students wrote a gorgeous Villanelle about her grandmother that holds both truths in tension. Two of the repeating lines are “All this and heaven too, she said” and “She tries so hard to get out of bed.”

I’m living in a season of abundance. Day by day I am struck by the overwhelming beauty of my child, the flowers, the sunshine. I am in love with my partner and my work. I am present in the moment, and I see God all around me. My heart is at peace. All this and heaven too, she said.

I imagine there are many people, though, in Charleston right now who can barely fathom the existence of the singular leaf. There is real, overwhelming grief, loss, pain, anger, confusion, and distrust crowding the view. Where is God? Why were they seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why? She tries so hard to get out of bed.

The singular leaf and swimming in God’s abundant goodness are both truth. Both views of the world are real. Many of us will live with both at different points in life. They both carry with them the hope of God. Anne Lamott also offers that both views help us

stay in the present moment. And that moment is home.

Published by Ellie Roscher

Ellie Roscher is the author of How Coffee Saved My Life, and Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace. She holds a master’s degree in Theology/Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

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