Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Curiosity and Wonder Might Just Save Us All



“They’re acting like a$$es.”

 

This is what I told my husband in a quick, condemning whisper during the few seconds our four kids were more than an arm’s length away from us on the hiking trail. I’m not proud of my words, it’s not language I use often, especially in reference to my kids. But I want you to know just how bad it was.

 

Our long-awaited vacation had arrived, and I was ready for us to be happy, grateful and relaxed. I had bought into the cultural myth of the “happy family vacation” – the ones you see in pictures, where siblings with smiling faces stand with their arms carelessly cast around each other’s shoulders in front of a serenely setting sun. I’d forgotten how new spaces – even welcome, joyfully anticipated ones – unsettle carefully orchestrated family dynamics. I’d forgotten how anticipation often equals heightened expectations. I’d forgotten how hard family vacations can be.

 

And so, we found ourselves rumbling down a hiking trail like a gang of hangry bears. Kids fought, picked, and climbed on top of each other. They complained about the hike, the heat, their siblings. The words, “stop hanging on me,” “stop fighting,” “keep walking,” shot from my mouth on an endless loop. I believe, at one point, I announced, “If you don’t stop fighting, we’re going to walk the rest of the way single-file, in silence.”

Nothing worked.

 

That is, nothing worked until we jostled around a bend in the trail and noticed a doe standing in a clearing at the forest’s edge. “Look, a deer,” someone announced.

 

We turned and acknowledged the sight. Our walking and talking slowed. Someone noticed the flicker of a white tail just inside the forest’s shade. “There’s another deer in the woods. Look. See it?” One, by one, we paused and pointed, waiting for the flash of a white flag in the shaded forest’s deep green.

 

“Maybe it’s a fawn,” someone suggested.

 

Then, my husband added, “I bet, if we kneel down, it might come out.”

 

The six of us fell to our knees without argument or question. We knelt, facing the open field, crouched within arm’s reach of each other. Silence descended, save for a few whispered questions and observations. After a few minutes, the second deer tip-toed silently from the woods and we saw they were about the same size – likely a set of twins on their way to the lake for an evening drink.  

 

There was no arguing, no complaining, no pushing or shoving. The agitation of the heat, the bugs, the siblings vanished.  

 

“Maybe, if we’re quiet, they’ll come closer,” someone suggested.

 

We waited and watched the deer who waited and watched us. We spoke in whispers and the deer carried on their own conversation with flickering tails and cautious movements forward and back.


Those deer did what I could not do. Stirring up holy curiosity and wonder, they pulled us together and brought us to our knees. Divisions eradicated, we found ourselves stunned into a unity of awe. 


//


And so I pray for moments of curiosity and wonder to descend on our deeply divided world. That we would stop our fruitless chiding and bickering and fall to our knees. That we would learn to whisper questions and work in unison that the hope of the holy drawing near would be our unifying desire. 


Nothing else seems to be working.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Beauty Blooms in Framed Spaces


It is only in framed space that beauty blooms. – Anne Lindbergh

 

The haiku settles for doing, as I read it anyway, one very simple but crucial thing – it tries to put a frame around the moment. It simply frames a moment. Of course, as soon as you put a frame around anything, you set it off, you make it visible, you make it real. - Frederick Buechner

 

A rose bush dances 

in the middle window 

of my office’s far wall. 


Beyond the bush, our back 

door stands wide open. 

My daughter is sitting 

on the back step. 


Blond and fresh, 

she is bent forward 

examining something 

in her hands. 


Her limbs are long, 

her hair is long, 

and the sun spotlights 

her in the door’s dark frame. 


She is engrossed 

in the movements 

of an insect making 

its way between her two hands - 

climbing a finger, then falling 

back to her palm. 


In a flash of motion, she looks up, 

thrusts her hand forward 

and the insect flies away - 

a black blur across the wide 

sunlit space. 


Then, she too flies, 

off the stoop and out 

of the frame and I 

am left here, writing 

the picture of beauty 

I saw through the middle

window of my office's far wall.


This poem is shared with dVerse poet's pub