Photo by Famartin. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Famartin. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Without a doubt, it’s chaos out there.

A world spins out of control. Our dysfunctional divisions widen. There’s no progress in sight to tackle the burgeoning challenges of the day.

It’s enough to make one wonder: What’s the point?

What gives?

And yet, this midsummer I am reminded again to slow down and take in a broader perspective. Informed both by longtime friends and some fresh experiences, what matters is making the most of every moment—or at least, fully appreciating those moments that matter most.

Turning around to face the light. Welcoming our capacity to turn, open to gratitude, even when ugly stuff rears its inevitable head. Perhaps recognizing the mosaic of both in our lives: seeking grace amidst the confusion, and even despair.

It is a choice we can all make—or not. I’m unsure why I still need reminding of this, since the downside of not doing so is so stark, like the sudden flash of heat lightning on a humid, dull horizon.

Should we be surprised by their gratitude, their will to make the best of moments?

Someone recently introduced me to a story I’d like to briefly share about a woman who chose to live in full despite having a rare, incurable disease. Amy Frohnmayer Winn lived with a rare recessive-gene disorder called Fanconi anemia, which results in bone-marrow failure, leukemia, and worse. Her two older sisters also died of the rare, incurable disease.

Amy did not merely exist with her condition. She thrived. Like her sisters growing up in Oregon, she endured having her blood counts monitored and bone marrow biopsied frequently. Her parents, who also raised two sons who do not have the disease, made sure their children experienced everything most of us would want: being active, learning to ski and play tennis, take piano lessons, opportunities to attend college, and enjoy sleep-overs with friends.

Amy’s story was perceptibly portrayed by John Brant in “Running For Her Life” in Runners World earlier this summer, which I highly recommend. She became a dedicated daily runner, covering four miles most days on her favorite trail along the Deschutes River in Bend (an area Denise and I were able to sample last summer with our son!).

Brant writes: “The trick, the task, the challenge, the girl realized with precocious insight, was to be present in the moment; to accept with clear eyes the good or ill, grace or pain, that each moment delivered.”

That’s a potent reminder for us all.

Unidentified trail runner. By Robin McConnell. Courtesy of Flickr.

Unidentified trail runner. By Robin McConnell. Courtesy of Flickr.

The article was recommended to me by someone I’ve only met on the phone, a potential reviewer for my forthcoming book. She suggested that Amy’s passion to live in full and what her parents have done for three decades aligns with some of the people I’ve written about, whose struggles with loss and other tough stuff ultimately transformed their lives.

Her parents, Lynn and Dave Frohnmayer, started a family support group in the 1980s along with founding the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund to learn and share more about the then-little-known disease.

Each of us may know others who, in the midst of excruciating trials, decide to live each day the best they can. We are moved, even astonished, by their guts and forbearance—indeed, their grace—enough so that we catch ourselves getting upset over some relatively trifling obstacle or ordeal.

Should we be surprised by their gratitude, their will to make the best of moments?

As an old friend reminded us recently, “Any day my feet hit the floor getting out of bed is a good day.”

In my circle of friends, we recently lost sweet Marie, only in her mid 50s, after a long struggle with breast cancer that had metastasized throughout her body. “Giggles” was her nickname, and she lived that way to the end. She had an uncanny laugh, and a certain toughness that may have seemed at odds with her small frame.

“Struggle” does not seem like the best way to describe how she lived—the little I really know of her journey in recent years. When we visited her in hospice, she ate ice cream trying to keep up a once-veracious appetite. Marie was still self-deprecating, chortling about the antics of family members, fully herself. Her oldest daughter was about to get married, and she hung on to be at the ceremony.

She, too, appeared to make that choice to stay present. And how vital it felt that we had been able to reconnect a few years earlier.

So, keep on turning. Into that crazy mosaic, under that full canopy.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today.

“What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye