Now and then, when I reach into my purse, I pull out a rock. Or a stick. Or a wilted dandelion. These are the “treasures” my son, Isaac, has collected for me, and they always make me smile (except when I am running late and in a hurry to find my car keys). Isaac, like most small children, is constantly looking for the next treasure to be found. He is a hunter. His eyes are open and always seeking something beautiful or interesting or special.
I wonder why we lose that childlike constant state of wonder? When do we stop actively looking for the beauty around us?
I have two or three empty vases that are stored away up in the cupboard above my microwave. They stay there 90% of the time, until someone gives me flowers. Then, I excitedly get a vase down and fill it with flowers and water. For the next week or so, I feel a tiny bit giddy each time I walk by that vase full of flowers sitting there on my counter. When the flowers inevitably die, I empty and wash the vase, and store it away again until the next time I have something to put in it.
I’m thinking this morning…what if I left those vases out and filled them myself? What if, instead of waiting for someone to bring me flowers, I collected the wildflowers from my backyard, or the flowing grasses that fill the ditches in the late summer, or the milkweed pods my kids find when we hike in the winter? What if I kept a pretty bowl on the counter and let Isaac fill it with the rocks and sticks that are his treasures? What if, at our house, we were a band of crazy beauty-hunters, who actively look for and gather treasures every day?
For those who are looking, the world’s beauty outweighs its burdens, it’s grace is greater than it’s grime. Ann Voskamp
For two years now, I have, in a way, been doing this. I have kept a “gratitude journal” (a concept I adopted from one of my favorite authors). In that journal, I jot down small things for which I am grateful, in the moment. Things like:
- Cardinals at the feeder
- Hot coffee
- Hilarious friends who make my belly hurt from laughing
- Homemade ice cream
- Hugs from my kids
- The ability to make music
- Cats playing
- Good conversation
The empty pages of that journal are kind of like that empty vase – vessels waiting to be filled with the color of God’s grace in my everyday life. If our eyes are open, there is beauty and grace all around us. When I sit down to fill those pages, I feel myself regaining some of that childlike wonder. I notice the small signs all around me that God is good and life is truly beautiful. I am, in effect, collecting treasures. My gratitude journal has caused me to start looking and seeking and paying attention again. And like those flowers in the vase, this is a gift I give myself. Becoming a beauty-hunter has allowed me to fill some empty spaces in my life and in my heart with color and joy. And that is one more thing to be grateful for!