I’ve been battling a light case of pneumonia for about 10 days now, requiring me to be on that super-fun steroid prednisone – the deliverer of mood swings, the elicitor of eating all the things, and the inciter of insomnia. In the wee hours this morning I found myself in the living room, awake and coughing and trying not to disrupt Chuck’s peaceful sleep. As I scrolled through our cable channels I hit the jackpot – almost 40 minutes left on one of my all-time favorite movies, Under The Tuscan Sun!
Sure I had already missed her time at “camp divorce” and her “gay and away” trip to Tuscany. I missed the bird pooping on her head as a sign from God that the old woman should sell her that fabulous but rundown house. I missed the whole ill-fated romance with Marcello and the gorgeous Positano scenery. I missed the beautiful Christmas on the piazza scene and her lovely interactions with the real estate broker Martini, the wisdom shared by intriguing Katherine (she of the fabulous hats and lady bugs), and her best friend showing up to have her baby in Italy (in the hospital with the designer gowns and the really good midwife who puts the knife under the bed to cut the pain).
By the time I tuned in this morning, the volume set low, Frances was just proclaiming that the Polish laborer Pawel who was asking for permission to marry her neighbor’s daughter did have a family – she was his family. And this led right to the wedding and the reception in her gorgeous Tuscan garden and my favorite scene.
In that scene Martini comes upon Frances quietly soaking up the vision of love and happiness in the place she worked so hard to bring back to life. He says to her, “it looks like you got your wish.” When she looks at him curiously, he reminds her that months ago (when he was trying to find the snake that had slithered in through her window) she told him that she wanted there to be a wedding in this house (cut to the two lovebirds canoodling in their wedding finery). And she wanted there to be a family in this house (cut to her best friend Patti rocking her little baby daughter).
“You’re right,” she says, “I got my wish.” And we watch as the thoughts play across her beautiful face, as the dawning of understanding shows in her eyes. Love is precious. Love is a gift. Sometimes love comes into our lives in a different package than we were hoping for. While we are hoping that the husband or the baby or the other wonderful thing will be addressed to us, it gets delivered to another person we love. But we still get to share in the joy, to bask in the beauty, and be surrounded by love and goodness and hope.
By changing her perspective on her wish, Frances was able to let the love sink deep inside her, to warm her soul and to give her hope and knowledge that love is all around us, available for us to experience. We can live in that love even if it isn’t a perfect match for the love we were wishing for. We can experience true love and fellowship with others even if it isn’t the romantic type we may have been seeking. These kinds of love – a friend who is a soul mate, counselor and co-conspirator, a child who loves you even if you aren’t their parent, the deep and abiding love of a couple you get to spend time with, the connection and camaraderie and support of a colleague – they are all real and valid experiences of love. We sometimes overlook their importance in our lives as we are waiting for the exact love package we ordered to be delivered to our door.
My wish for you this holiday season is that you see your life as filled with gifts of love. They may come in small, beautifully wrapped packages. Or big awkward gift bags. Or in simple envelopes. They may be gifts to experience in a group or presents for you alone. Open them. Open all of them. Don’t miss out on experiencing love in your life because it doesn’t match your original wish. Be blessed with the love that is all around us. Dive in and swim in the current of universal love. Soak it in. It is yours.