Life can be challenging: Unexpected trials, upended plans, suspended dreams, bodies we suddenly can’t trust, needs that seem engulfing, skills that just come up short.

Do you relate? Mindboggling as it is, somehow it just helps to know that others can feel the same.

Equally as staggering a thought is that somehow, during our times of challenge: We learn new things, we see new entities we did not see before, we become more aware and sensitive, we develop deeper gratitude.

All of this, and still, life can be challenging, tedious, a struggle.

So, this morning, as I reflected on the truths written above, I found that there just has to be growth that comes out of challenge. And so, I started to make a list of just a few of the growing edges that have come to me during these last months:

Our mail carriers are remarkably dedicatedThey have no intent on letting our nation down. In rain, snow, hail, they do their jobs. They have for scores of years and continue forth. I am so grateful for that little bit of mail that slips in my door slot. How incredible that the mail centers my well-being some days.

Weather that changes.  I’m not sure that I have ever been as observant of the changes in weather as I have these last months. I started taking a picture on the same day of the month, each month, since the pandemic quarantine (and the birth of my first grandchild) began. I get excited about the changes. I find them hopeful.

The sound of my voice and the voices of others.  When you spend a lot of time alone, you can go a really long time not talking. It struck me one day when I laughed out loud that the sound of my own voice startled me! So, I have started singing more.

Newfound respect for those often overlookedhealth care providers, law enforcement, bus and train operators, store stockers, and yes again, our faithful mail carriers! All these wonderful people just give and give and give. I am so incredibly thankful for them.

Our early childhood teachers. We entrust them with our precious children. Some of us have been trying to teach from home, also work, take our treatments…so much to balance.  BUT these teachers should make like 10 times what they make! They just do so much, and with so little.

Science and Researchers. These were never my strong suit at school. How incredibly grateful I am for those who pay attention to how things work, need to work, help us all get well. Bless you!

Birds and bird songs.  My list could go on and on and on… but I will stop here. As I have sat in my little back yard, I realize that we actually have birds. Have they always been singing as much as they are this spring?  These little voices bring such joy. Today a hummingbird flew into my yard. Such a tiny, tiny bird. Who knew they actually make kind of a humming/clicking sound?

So, as we begin this day, no matter how tedious and challenging life is, pay attention to what you, like me, have been missing but may sense in a different way during this season of our challenging lives.

Now take on the week. May it be a good one for you!

Lucretia Hurley-Browning, MDiv, MS, is a guest writer whose recent background includes Chaplain of Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Director of Juniper Tree Counseling Center. She is a therapist and ordained United Methodist Minister. Currently she is a writer by day, a reader by night, and is passionate about living life meaningfully with a good dose of fun. 

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