A Box of Chocolates and Making Plans


 “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump

          “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

We all know and love Forrest Gump and John Lennon, right? And many of us can come up with those two quotes without having to look them up.

They’re both so simple when you first hear them. So obvious. Even quirky. Definitely memorable. And true.

Truth can come at us from out of the blue somewhere. In the midst of great trial and great change, truth has a way of finding its voice in any one of us.

It can seem that it comes to us through our minds, our thoughts, our imaginations. But most of the truths that we discover have their origins in the life of our spirits. 

And in this fraught time of pandemic and social upheaval – this time of radical change – our spirits are on high alert. Which is good news!

So – my friends – it is time to get our spirits in shape, then. Right? Ready to receive. Our spirits are hungry for something that we can take hold of and recognize as truth in a new outfit.

In my small and protected pandemic life, that recently meant getting away. As in – R0AD TRIP! I have friends who have gone to Canada, to the Northwest, taken vacations with their kids in all kinds of places far away. My trip was 21 miles north, to the Dairy Queen. Okay, don’t laugh. We do what we can.

Of course, the destination was not “the thing” at all. It was simply the excuse to break the bond of the city limits and of my fears and to venture out beyond my pandemic comfort zone. (I’m such a wimp!!!) And still be able to get back to my own bathroom if the need arose. Seriously. “Spiritual” does not mean “impractical!”

I have been learning how to be “in the present moment” in this awful time, so I was on alert from the moment I turned north onto Highway 52, about 100 yards from my apartment. A journey that I had taken every Sunday morning for a year became a new experience now, and I was curious.

The sun was not shining yet, but the world “out there” was shining just for me.

The cornfields stretched for hundreds of acres, and the corn had tasseled out, so their pale green feathery tops waved in the breezes. I had forgotten just how many greens there are in nature, even though I’ve taken up painting and should know this stuff – how the wind turned up the leaves of the aspen and showed their sweet pale green underside.

The Queen Anne’s lace were running riot everywhere, their flat, feathery white blooms taking the breeze in great and small clumps. They were joined by more riots of color – wildflowers whose names I do not know, but whose variety and delicacy painted the long grasses with wonder. Lavender and mandarin orange; small yellow bushes of tiny florets and pink and blue ones, too, graced my needy spirit.

Some saucy golden Lazy Susans showed up, with their black centers, clumped together like schoolgirls watching the boys from afar.

The sumac bushes clung to the hills next to the highway, waiting for autumn’s red to turn their leaves and then, suddenly, there it was…the pale pink of a small clump that had taken its turn early. And whoosh, just ahead, the Queen Anne’s Lace filled the median to my left and waved to me with glee as I laughed with the whimsy of it all!

Here it was: my chocolate covered caramel of a day!

And chocolate covered caramels are pure grace!

Oh, the truth is that in the midst of darkness and grieving, in the footsteps of losses and changes that we haven’t asked for, there is still so much beauty to be seen and grabbed onto. So much strength it can give us. So many truths it can utter.

And then we can discover what Maya Angelou meant in one of her many truths:

Look at what you’ve already come through! Don’t deny it. You’ve already come through some things, which are very painful. If you’ve been alive until you’re 35, you have gone through some pain. It cost you something. And you’ve come through it. So at least look at that. And have a sense to look at yourself and say, “Well, wait a minute. I’m stronger than I thought I was.”

Yes, yes we are. And a vital part of our strength lies in the beauty that has been planted time and again in our spirits. The truth that still says that so much of life is still good, even as it is changing.

So while we’re still finding ways to be bold in the midst of change, we might remember to look around us. And see what chocolates we have been given. And what plans life has had for us. And wait for truth and delight to surprise us – again.