Today I am grateful for split seconds--for moments of clarity and understanding--for times when the stars align just right or a beam of sun breaks through the clouds or a pillar of light appears on your pillow. In that split second--that moment--that sliver of absolute clarity--when the clouds part--I see and understand. And, perhaps most importantly, I remember.
The other night I had a crazy dream where I was in a precarious position. I was traveling in a car along an ocean highway, in the middle of a stormy water. The waves started crashing over the road and we were all terrified. For one split second, in my dream, I reached out to both sides of the car and somehow with a power beyond my own, calmed the storm and stayed the car on a firm road. Right then, my alarm went off and I was transported back to the crazy storms of my daytime life--school, marathon training, work (don't even get me started on my online history quizzes), social life, family. But for one split second, I was calm, in control, and in sure footing.
The other night I had a study group. We meet weekly in our mad quest to conquer our oral exams. As time is drawing nigh, I proposed that we put each other in the hot seat, that we each ask a provoking question and that we answer on our own merits--but then that we add to each other to collectively share knowledge. I was second. "Has America really seen a true revolution?" "Discuss American foreign policy post-WWII." "Talk about the market revolution." "Was Reconstruction a success or failure? Discuss its historiography." All tough questions. But somehow, I remembered much of what I have spent the last few months studying, and my words and ideas flowed out coherently and polished. I felt smart. For maybe 30 minutes, I felt smart--and I haven't felt smart in months. I drove home on fire. The next day, I was back in my insecure footing of the Cold War and the Korean War, but I remembered having felt smart the night before and I pressed forward.
This morning I ran up Rock Creek. The colors were incredible and the variety was inspiring--some trees had lost all leaves, others were just starting to change. The skies parted and it stopped raining and proved to be a beautiful, scattered sunshine kind of run. My favorite views were when a very gentle breeze blew snowfalls of leaves, catching the sun as they came down. Suddenly, in that second, I remembered all that is good and that has been good in the past year of my life. I have some great memories, my friends. Good stuff has happened. I've felt new things and experienced a grand change of heart. All that has sort of crowded over lately in fear and insecurity and despair, all wrapped together. But for a single moment, I remembered. And I smiled and laughed and danced on the street.
So even if those moments are fragmented, they spread out throughout my life, and I remember them. I draw upon that clarity and press forward. And that, my friends, is a great tender mercy.