I love turning over a new calendar page, and today, December 1st isn’t without exception – the only exception is it has come too quickly! Sew much to do, so many things that will be left undone simply because there “isn’t enough time”. Such is life!
Yesterday was a day of reflection as my thoughts turned to my to-do list, my stresses, my joys – all mingled together wanting to be sorted out, wanting a place to land in that pervertible priority list. And then in a moment, without planning, I found an unintended distraction, my brief escape, my peaceful reflection in taking time to “smell the roses” – or more intentionally, taking time to notice the things around me as I walked to and fro to pick up the mail in my mailbox…
My mailbox is across the street next to my neighbor’s mailbox at the edge of their property line. Each day as I walk to the mailbox I am reminded of how unpredictable and somewhat “unfair” life can be at times. For you see, my neighbor’s house is a mirror image of my own. The story goes two brothers, or sometimes told as two sisters, build identical homes across the street from each other. One chose to build the land up a bit, the other did not. One has flooded continually through the ages, the other only recently. Forward 50+ years and it’s a tale of two neighbors, one who has recovered from Hurricane Harvey and one who is having to tear down to rebuild and hasn’t even begun “recovery”. Life isn’t fair.
As I was walking back to my own driveway, praying for my neighbor’s continued recovery journey and thanking God that ours was somewhat over (still unpacking, reorganizing, outside work needs to be done, but reconstruction is behind us even if we aren’t truly settled) I couldn’t help but reflect that this particular day, November 30th, marked the end of hurricane season for 2018! For most of us, besides an audible sigh of relief, that means fall has officially arrived. Having lived almost 20 years in the foothills of The Smokey Mountains before returning to my beloved home state of Texas my mind turned to a time of enjoying the fall leaves, the brilliant colors and that’s when I saw it….a touch of fall color near my driveway.
Little as it was, it brought a smile to my face. We did have fall! I’ve always marveled at this tree, the knarls, the beautiful flowers in season, the way it sheds its bark. I’m ignorant when it comes to plants, trees, anything green (unless it’s lime green fabric and then I’m all giddy), so I can’t begin to tell you the names of anything, how to care for it (I do have a special skill, I kill silk flowers – with dust!). Nor do I know what you should do to feed or trim or what not. Little known fact, I have never in my life pushed a lawnmower to mow a yard or ridden on one unless it was for entertainment when my Pa-Pa would hook up the trailer behind the riding mower to give us kids a ride around the pasture. So I’m not going to pretend to know what I’m rambling about, just that this caught my eye and caused me to pause and look closer through the view of my camera lens. Take the journey with me for a moment.
As I took time to really zoom in and take a look, this view reminded me of a horse’s face, complete with a mane between the eyes. Looking at my tree became somewhat similar to looking for images in the clouds ~ another childhood pastime.
As I continued to look I imagined all sorts of fantastical creatures and art forms. I remembered an old movie I saw as a child, The Gnome-Mobile, and my favorite book series The Borrowers – I could just imagine little people living in this tree! Or being a child with my figurines using this tree and all its beauty as the setting for my imaginative play.
Instead of gnomes, or fairies, or Borrowers, reality was found in the beauty of an ant mound. Fantasy can’t really improve upon nature. The exploration continued around this fascinating tree that I passed by each day, almost without notice except when in full bloom of beautiful hot pink flowers.
There’s a verse in the Bible that I learned as a song when much younger. I haven’t searched for the song (you can YouTube or Google almost anything these days!) but the verse is from Isaiah 55:12
For you shall go out with joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands
As I stepped back to take a full look at this tree in my yard, this tree by the driveway that I can’t help but pass anytime I leave my front yard, I was reminded that so many times I take things for granted in my busyness, my rush to get through that never-ending to-do list. What a shame. Something that seems so common is actually so complex when taken the time to study and reflect. People are like that ya’know. We take them for granted, we pass by with a nod of courtesy, visit out of a sense of duty, but do we really dig deeper to discover the hidden wonders in the personalities of those we “know”? God created each of us as unique individuals, each having a quality worth digging deeper for, a talent we have worth sharing, a need we possess worthy of someone coming alongside to acknowledge, to encourage, to support, a deep hidden joy that needs to bubble forth if we could just take the time to let it out unashamedly.
Yes, it’s December 1st. The “busy season” that is sometimes too stressful to truly take time to look a little closer at the things that matter the most. It’s my hope that as I pass by this tree each day this month that I am reminded that God created all the beauty around me, that He has given me the gift of life and that life is to be cherished and enjoyed. As it’s been said, God sets the date for our birth and our death, it’s the dash between the dates on the tombstone that we are given the privilege to fill.
I want to be like the trees in Isaiah, and clap my hands in applause for the love of our Creator God – who in His great love sent His Son, Jesus whose birth we celebrate this time of year. I want to take time to “smell the roses” and see the deeper parts of my friends and family while opening up my heart for their discovery too.
Here’s to a month of splendor, joy, and discovery! May God bless you and yours this holiday season.