In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on not daily second chances, but life-changing, knock-your-socks-off ones. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa as you consider these life-changing second chances and how they have worked in your life.
Hounds of Heaven
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
This second chance which is making the rounds inside me is not a daily second chance.
I love those daily second chances that emerge because I stop to notice where I am: entranced by the movement of a wooly caterpillar, transfixed by the cherry pink peony’s ebullience, fascinated by my young son’s question: “What happens to God when I die?”
I love second chances that bloom out of paying it forward: Witnessing the surprised delight of an older couple when they discover someone unknown has paid for their rare “date night” dinner out. Witnessing wonder in the eyes of a child of refugees when she wins a full scholarship to college. Witnessing a teacher gasp upon finding a vase of red roses in her classroom. Watching the slow smile of the next customer at the coffee shop when he hears, “Your order has been taken care of, sir.”
Every second chance I have witnessed or experienced is a momentary miracle. A moment of awe and gratitude. Timelessness and humility. A moment to see with the eyes of a child.
This second chance which is making the rounds inside me is not a daily second chance. This yet-to-be-formed second chance is a life-changer. A knock-your-socks-off, not-know-what-hit-you, shout “Halleluia!” second chance. I know this. I feel this. I have felt this before at defining points in my life.
I felt this when, to confront my fear of heights, I leapt off the platform of a zip line tautly stretched above the Guatemalan jungle. I felt this when I accepted McGraw-Hill’s offer to write a textbook I didn’t believe I could write. I felt this when I received a photograph of a ten-month-old wild-haired “No-I-won’t-hold-still-for-this-picture” boy from Anyang, Korea; if I said “yes” to the adoption agency, that baby would become my forever son.
Then as now, I have little sense of what lies ahead. I am not a bungee-jumping, rock-climbing Acapulco diver. These days I prefer serenity to drama, having experienced ample drama to last a few lifetimes. I am sixty-eight and a half years old for Pete’s sake. Wouldn’t I be smarter to live out my life surrounded with hard-earned comforts and familiar pathways?
I said “yes” then and I will say “yes” now. To say “no” would be to cut off an arm or deny a dream.
I’m scared. I’m worried (and I am not the worrisome type). I don’t look forward to the rupture big changes seem to require. This time I will prepare better. I’ll level with my friends, as I am leveling with you. I’ll ask for help. I’ll pray. I’ll even consider doing “damage control” for the first time.
And when I’m ready, I will leap. Today I know this. Tomorrow, or even later today, I might chicken out. But eventually, I will leap.
The hounds of heaven will nip at my ankles and yelp to the stars until I say “yes.” I know how this goes. I know the risks. I know the joy. I will accept my second chance for a truer, simpler, and more sacred life.
Have (or are) the hounds of heaven nipped and yelped at you? If so, how on earth did you make your choice? What awaited you on the other side?