I once met a woman more beautiful than most.
She was wildflowers, she was original hardwood worn smooth throughout the home; she was a cup of hot coffee on the back porch. She was the gentle lapping of the late summer lake against the grass of a twilight shore. She was a finger-painted self-portrait of her son framed high on the living room wall. She was laughter, very real and all her own, made coarse over her years of sharing it. She was patience, she was kindness; she gave more than she ever had.
She would sit beside you on the porch in silence, and she would share the moment with you as it stretched forward, content in simply knowing that you’re doing just fine today. Her greatest treasures were photo albums, bronzed baby shoes and whatever you were sharing.
And when I think of how life is best spent lived, I think of her – the ease in which she found contentment in the everyday, and the ease in which we all were drew to her. She embodied happiness and contentment in a way that escapes most of us, and she did it without nice cars or new clothes or any house other than the one she walked into as a young bride. She was, right down to her core, genuinely content with what she had.
And when I think of her, I also think of the day when what seemed like half the world gathered in a church too small to hold the places in our hearts for her. The stories of her poured out from under the eaves of childhood homes and unfolded from between the pages of old hardcover yearbooks and came unrooted from the summers spent running barefoot in the grass. Stories of first loves that never faded and of long talks at a kitchen table; stories of kind words and comfort, of salvation from a world that otherwise seemed perhaps a bit too harsh. Stories of broken hearts but memories more beautiful, about a woman with more grace than most.
And I think we all left that church vowing to embody a bit of her spirit in our own lives. I often remind myself to exercise the choice of happiness and I try to think of small things I might do every day to add a little more sunlight to somebody else’s. I harbor a sentiment that the shoes and the skirts and the books and the toys don't mean anything in my ability to live that lifestyle. It certainly doesn’t come naturally to me – it doesn’t come as naturally to anybody, I think, as it did for her – but I believe we could all benefit from being a little more "Marion." And be a bit happier, a bit brighter, a bit lighter on our feet with each day we keep that simplicity and grace in mind.