We all carry a crazy patched quilt of mixed baggage with us. Some pieces are beautiful.
Others are stark in their horrific tragic moments that shred our hearts into pieces smaller than confetti. Those pieces seem to cover us at times as we struggle to mend the pieces together the best we can. Over time, new pieces are added and the sorrow of those dark patches becomes easier to bear.
As our crazy quilts grow, we sometimes fold the quilt to the most current patches and occasionally forget how dark some of the underneath patches are.
When I remember, I pray for God to take those terrible dark patches and make some good come from them. It can take years or decades to see the answer to those prayers. Sometimes the answers to those prayers are quiet, long drawn, and can be seen in the big picture.
On a very rare occasion, something will happen that brings the dark patch to the front. On an even rarer occasion, what happens is a single, lone Grace-filled moment that captures us by surprise and reminds us that all was not lost in that dark patch.
It’s almost like a single sequin is sewn into a patch that’s so black it seems like a black hole that defies time and space. But the single sequin gleams in the light, reminding us there’s a way out of the darkness.
The moment may stretch into a season. Other times, it’s still that single moment. But it’s a grace moment we can treasure, and remember, that we are not alone in the dark patches or the light patches. And we can resolve to open our hearts so we can see the sequins when they are presented to us – moments of grace that remind us we are not alone.
Those are the moments that differentiate the southern fiction of Flannery O’Conner from William Faulkner. O’Connor sees the despair and emptiness in some people’s lives but always has that lone moment of grace so fleeting you may not realize it’s there, but it’s a chance to see the wonder of God’s mercy.
And when we see it, we treasure it and cry, not quite in the darkness but in the shining light of a single sequin.