I had coffee with one of my former college professors a few weeks ago. I walked down the road to the little corner café and we sat for a while talking about life and direction. We’re both in the midst of a murky time of transition – his post retirement, mine at the end of the season of parenting preschool aged children. This friend, a retired professor Christian Spirituality and Ministry who’s penned a biblical commentary for a well-known series, likes to tease me about the fact that I went to a “better seminary” than him.
When it came up that morning in the coffee shop I smiled and shrugged. “Yeah,” I said, “and look where it got me – selling flowers and eggs along the side of the road!”
He smiled and shrugged. “Well,” he said, “that’s important too.”
He’s right. It is. And I knew it even as I sat there making light of it.
John built the farm stand early this summer and I started out trying to sell eggs and produce, but sales were slow, by which I mean nearly non-existent. But then the two seed packets of Zinnias we planted grew and started blooming in a wild array of pinks and oranges. I soon added cut flower arrangements to the stand first in old glass canning jars, then in recycled soup cans. I called them “Tin Can Bouquets” and sold them for $1 each.
In late August, a friend of mine discovered the bouquets and posted a picture of them online, sales picked up dramatically. Some days it felt like I could hardly keep the stand stocked with flowers. All in all, I’m confident we made more money in flowers this summer than in produce and eggs combined.
I realized something amazing this summer when I sold my first carton of eggs to a stranger who happened to stop by because of the sign in our yard. When you sell something to another person – in this case, eggs – you’re in some small way, entering into their life. The woman who stopped by took my eggs into her home, put them in her refrigerator and they became part of her meal planning and dinner, lunch or breakfast. A product of mine became part of her life and I don’t even know her name. The same goes for writing a book, I guess, or selling flowers, each product offers a chance to impact someone else’s life.
A few weeks ago I told a small group of friends about my plan to self-publish Chicken Scratch this November 7th. After taking time to think about my goals for the book and how I would measure its success, I had found I was surprised by my own answer.
“What I most want,” I told them, “is for it to be fun.” I shrugged my shoulders at the word fun, like it was a small thing. Then with my face scrunched up, almost as if in apology, I added, “I think it’s really important.”
My friends agreed.
We talked about how fun can seem frivolous, unimportant, when compared to the serious work needing to be done. These friends work in the non-profit sector, they know a thing or two about serious work, and yet they agreed, we do need more beauty and joy, more fun in our lives.
I used to think being a good person meant doing all of the serious work first. Then maybe, if I was lucky, there would be a few spare moments at the end of the day or the end of a productive life to do something “just for fun;” to travel, to rest, to play. I still find myself thinking that way when the list of good and important, even necessary, things that must be done is long. (Is it ever not long?)
But I understand now that fun belongs on that list too. Fun is good. Fun is important. Fun is necessary. So necessary that we may even need to practice at it until we learn to engage in fun, not as a form of escapism or entertainment, but as a way to refill our souls, giving us hope, energy and courage to continue on in the rest of the good and serious work needing to be done.
“It kinda blows my mind,” I told my friends that day. “Of all the things for sale at the farm stand, all of the useful, practical food items, what people bought most was beauty.”
I like to think of those tin can bouquets - the ones my friend bought two and three at a time and took to meetings all over town, the others bought by people I never met or even saw - those pink and purple happy Zinnia faces are smiling all around Boiling Springs and Carlisle, on kitchen counters, dining room tables and goodness only knows where else. What a joy it is to spread a little fun into pockets of the world I would otherwise never reach.
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Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.
What if we chose to deliberately look for small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?
That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days. You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder. Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.
While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment. Thanks for being part of our community!