Do you all know Seth Haines? He’s written one of the best books I read in 2015, “Coming Clean,” (reviewed here on this blog) He also writes an occasional Tiny Letter and was one of those who inspired me to begin writing my own version of that. In the last few of those letters, he has begun to do what he once did for a small group of email friends — provide inspiration for writing on a topic. Today’s letter inspired these thoughts and THIS  is what I need in my writing life right now. I’ve been tired, lethargic, uninspired for many months now. I’m sure that enervating fatigue is connected to the stresses of the last eighteen months or so, from foot surgery and recovery to emergency hospital stays, to a major move across town, interwoven with the continuing disappearance of my mother into the mists of dementia and the inevitable toll of a long life on the bodies and psyches of both my husband and myself. But today, his own reflection (which is stunningly gorgeous – go over to his blog and sign up for his letter right this minute!) invited me to just sit and reflect on the presence of God in the ordinary. My response to that invitation:


The clouds are low to the ground this week, hovering over our city like a pale gray shawl, hiding the view, softening the noise, slowing my breath. Today’s clouds carry water, gentle but steady, trundling its way down the drainpipe behind the bedroom wall, glistening on the ground outside the sliding door.

I’ve just come from a long lunch with a friend, someone I trust, someone I love. And I heard such sadness, sadness I knew nothing about. And my eyes well with tears for her . . . and for me, because I did not know. And I did not ask. Until today.

The gray dampness of the day seemed appropriate somehow. And the Beauty in the midst of that gray was her lovely face, sincere, concerned, honest, receptive. We talked long past the 90 minutes of free parking and I left a more generous tip than usual. Story-sharing costs us something, you know? It is never cheap.

When I returned home, driving up the winding hill with the wipers going full tilt, I shared the saddest parts with my husband. He, too, was hit hard. He, too, feels that pull to re-commit to friendship, to share the load, to pay something for the privilege of inclusion, even if it costs nothing more than time and empathy. Those are never cheap, either, are they?

I made myself some tea, a new flavor – Peppermint Chocolate – and settled into reading and writing for a while. But my eye was caught by some new blooms on the vine that covers our low-slung back fence, the one over which we usually have a soaring city and mountain view. The wide view is unavailable during this grayness, this shawl-covering season. But the narrow one is always there.

I took my camera out into the gentle rain and aimed it toward those gold and lavender throated cups that were pointing every which way along the rail. The drops of water somehow multiplied their loveliness and I gasped as I gingerly stepped from concrete to grass to flagstone pavers. I snapped the pictures and I remembered a truth I too often neglect or downright forget: there is Beauty everywhere. Everywhere.

Even on a gray day, even when friends are sad, even when I forget to ask.

Where are you finding Beauty in the midst of the grayness, in the humdrum of day-to-day life?

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  1. Wasn’t that invitation wonderful? (his words a sacred echo of our ‘Abide’ retreat from last year…and a practice I long to continue!)
    Thank you for sharing so beautifully what you saw and heard, Diana.
    I’m going to go do the same right now 🙂

  2. I’m hopping over to sign up! Your post is so inspiring. Your lunch with a friend brings thoughts to mind of those I need to spend time with.

    • We all need to remember that piece. We get busy, life gets weird – yet everybody needs a friend to listen sometimes. Even us, right??

  3. Stunning photos, Diana, and stunning post . . . Yes, there is beauty everywhere, even in the grey days and the sad times, when we choose to have eyes to see. Blessings!

  4. Having lived in the Sunshine State for forty years, it is a relief of sorts to escape the glare and heat of almost-incessant, too-bright sunshine. Now transplanted to the Midwest, I’ve actually enjoyed the calm and cozy atmosphere under the cloud-blanket of an occasional gray day. Some residents, however, bemoan the gloom. I’m thinking, beauty is not only everywhere (sometimes inside a cafe sharing heart-to-heart with a friend, sometimes in a rain-drenched garden, sometimes at home by the fire with a cup of Highlander Grogg coffee in hand), but beauty is in the eye of the beholder,too — the one willing to look for it wherever she may be, whatever she may be doing. Thank you, Diana, for a BEAUTIFUL post!

    • I, too, enjoy the gray days — when they are occasional! I tire of months on end of grayness and find that the gray seeps its way into my spirit. Most of the time, we enjoy a rich variety of weather (not frigid winter snow, but everything else! – and often say to visitors, “If you don’t like the weather in Santa Barbara, wait five minutes!). The two most difficult weather patterns for me are 1.) long sieges of fog and overcast, sometimes months on end in the summer, and 2.) the sweeping, destructive winds that come down the canyons at strange moments in every season of the year. They’re called sundowners, as they usually begin in the late afternoon/evening and howl through the night and into the next day. Other than that, I have NO complaints. And you are right, Nancy, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and I’m continually asking for eyes to see it well. Thanks for your kind encouragement, my friend.

  5. This is one of the most soul beautiful posts I’ve read by you (or anyone come to that) in a long while. Definitely Diana at her best! You reminded me of the need to reconnect with some long-lost real life friends, as well as offering inspiration to awaken my heart to beauty in the everyday. Thank you.
    Seth Haines is a wonderful writer whose blog I’ve only recently discovered and I love his ‘Tiny Letters’. So I must check out my bulging Kindle, find the hidden copy of ‘Coming Clean’ and actually remember to read it as soon as possible. Sigh.. so many great books and so little time… 🙂 x

    • Thank you, Joy. I’ve been a little lost in some ways and I’m not entirely sure what that’s all about. But Seth’s beautiful letter was a reminder of those parts of me that have been hidden for a while. Thanks for your kind words – and enjoy Seth’s book. Even my husband loved that one and we seldom read the same things.

  6. I also had a long brunch with a friend this week. Her life is complicated but she’s stepping back and basking in friendship and God, an excellent prescription.

    We had a short snowfall last Sunday. The leafless branches glistened, one of my favorite gifts from God . I don’t know if I’ll be as thrilled if we get the latest forecast….12″. Although snow falling makes me smile (from the toasty side of my sling glass door;)

    • Oh, Sandy – I wonder how you’re doing tonight with this HUGE storm! Glad you had a nice brunch, friend. So life-giving, right?

  7. So very beautiful, Diana. Thank you for this poignant glimpse of beauty in an ordinary day. I love Seth’s Tiny Letters…just as I love yours. I read Seth’s this week to the small group of friends I’m leading through Joshua when we discussed seeing God in the doldrums and waiting.

    Seth’s letter and your soul deep response have been some of the most satisfying words I’ve read this week. Thank you, my dear and lovely friend. xox