Seeing Life Anew

“Forgotten Language”
by Shel Silverstein

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

My daughter loves to go on “hikes.” Now, our “hikes” rarely takes out of our yard. She walks around the yard, her head always pointed at the ground taking in every detail. In particular, she cannot resist stopping and calling our attention to the smallest of flowers. I have no idea what to call these four-peddled flowers, but they are certainly smaller than the eraser on a pencil, coming in shades of both soft blue and dirty white. Each time she spots a new flower or cluster, she insists everyone on the hike stop to appreciate what she has found. After expressing an appropriate level of interest, we resume our hike only to stop, again, to admire the next bunch of equally small yet delicately arranged flower patch. (You cannot imagine how long it takes to walk around our yard. These little flowers are everywhere!)

She calls this our “garden.” “Don’t we have a lovely garden, Daddy,” she says.

And, of course, we do. While not a garden we planted (nor particularly well tended on my part), we are blessed to live in a most spectacular garden, planted by wind and happenstance mixed with grace and providence.

If not for these regular hikes, I am sure I would miss seeing these dainty yet marvelous additions to our garden. I would probably miss appreciating the garden itself. It takes small, intentional moments like these with my daughter to draw me out of the numbing, distracting routine of getting up, going to work, attending meetings, coming home, and going to bed. Such a rhythmic life is effective in it efficiencies while rarely rewarding in its repetition. Far too often, we confuse the busyness of life with the business of living.

Such an existence disconnects us from each other and the rest of the world around us. My under-appreciation of these infinitesimally small flowers scattered across our lawn is symptomatic of a larger disconnection. Our worlds of work and perpetual motion disengage and distract. Despite the explosion of life that has erupted seemingly overnight, many of us manage to walk through our days oblivious to the gift of living in such a magnificent place, even oblivious to the gift of life itself. In our hustle to finish our tasks, we neglect to appreciate our primary task: to share life and share it abundantly.

Over the coming weeks as the semester winds down while the pressures ratchet up, may we take those intentional moments to break from our disconnecting routines, from our artificially assigned timetables and enjoy the master timetable subtly witnessing to true life and new life all around us.

Have a wonderful week. Enjoy the flowers, especially the small ones.

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