Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
Mumford & Sons

Over a glass of wine last night, a friend and I talked of expectations. How, like creeping weeds, they reach ’round to choke out the gift that is. How drinking again and again from their cup as if they’re sustaining promises can drain the life clean out.

I am seeing new how expectations bind joy’s wrists, how they work their way into bad dreams and daytime obsessions as I toil for mastery, carving, carving, carving the picture I’ve envisioned.

When I look over my shoulder at the landscape of this week, I see days not chiseled by my hand, but unfolded from unexpected wrappings.

Moments of freedom on the faces of daughters and friends dancing and playing musical pillows and not wanting to stop. Fifth grade girls relishing the simple pleasures of a hot cocoa bar and cotton ball relay races.

A walk through a nature preserve on the family’s day off — one daughter a grump for much of it and unable to see the beauty around her, another whining for long spells of the walk back to the car, another able to delight in almost every fallen feather, every horsetail on the water’s edge, and I think how much like all three I am.

This week, we prepared our home for a party in one short Saturday morning, and it once would have nearly broken me with stress, but now, among rapid-fire dusting and a sweaty face for greeting guests, I felt something so much more akin to love and joy in the opening.

Like any week, I struggle against the propensity to see what is not, what needs to be or what could or should be. In my parenting, in our marriage, in my friendships, in my writing. All the ways I cannot give what I desire, and these limitations are part of the way of this life.

So I begin each day again with grace. With slow sips of coffee splashed with half and half, under the fuzzy blue blanket, reading life words and releasing myself, my day and those around me.

I’m remembering the hills climbed and thinking of those yet to go.

We do not know how they will look, but we tromp again across expectations, loosening our grip so we can bend down to pick up that flower before we see the surprising view over the hill.


Linking up with Emily Wierenga at Imperfect Prose where writers are sharing their thoughts about joy. I’m recognizing the glorious glimpses of joy for me when I can trust and loosen my grip, if even just a bit.

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