Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Word for May-June-July-August

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W. B. Yeats

There it was, early May, and I had yet to choose a word.

The trees leaf out, and birds build their nests and sing their songs and peck their holes, and lilacs and hyacinths blast their scents, and blackberries explode in our mouths.

Yesterday, I found a petunia hybrid called Superbells Dreamsicle for my back porch, and I stumbled upon Yeats' observation again, and I thought, "I found my word for the entire summer."


I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series and came out of that immersive experience with eyes refreshed to the world--our real world where the mail is delivered by humans in funny-looking trucks that snarl traffic and our real world in which my son's glasses need to be repaired at the optometrist's office. Owl post and wands are all well and good in books, but we muggles must make do as best we can, which, if we open our eyes, is really quite nicely.

The world is full of magic things.

Superbells Dreamsicle, for instance. And goldfinches. And the pages of books. And 11-year-old boys singing "Don't Go Breaking my Heart." And neck rubs. And a perfect bite of ribeye steak. And starlight and moonlight and sunlight dancing with dust.

These magic things are only magic because we go beyond simply seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, hearing them...we notice them in a new way, a careful way, attentively. When we become accustomed to something, we stop noticing it so much, stop seeing how special and wonderful and unique and amazing it is.

The clay pot on my desk has been there for years now, holding my pens and scissors usefully...and beautifully. Someone's hands made it. On a wheel. Of North Carolina clay. The potter signed it illegibly on the bottom. Mud, water, pigment, whatever chemicals go into glaze, and some serious heat combined under a skilled hand to make that bit of magic usefulness on my desk.

I recently recorded a video for our church's sermon series called Living Stones. In it, I told a story of a time when Jack was five and undergoing intensive therapy and treatment for autism. In many ways, I felt like we were ruining his childhood with all that hard work, but one day, one of his preschool teachers asked him, "What is the best thing about being Jack?" He answered, "Love." That's when I knew that despite all we were putting Jack through, he still understood the most important lesson of all: he was loved, deeply and completely, forever and always. His answer was, for me, the best sort of magic possible, a balm to keep pressing on.

One of my fellow Stephen Ministers told me that the video made him think about how so many parents are dissatisfied with their children's report cards or athletic performance, but really, we should see our children--disabled or otherwise--as blessings for who they are, not for what they have or haven't achieved. I think he has a very good point.

When our children are fresh and newborn, we stare at them in awe and wonder. When they are pimply, sassy teenagers, back-talking and entitled and flip, they don't seem quite so magical. How have our senses grown so dull?

I think a few months of summer to sharpen our senses might be an excellent idea. Care to join me?

How are you surrounded by magic? What can you do to sharpen your senses, to notice the magic all around you? Can you connect your sharpening senses to your sense of gratitude, and grow in gratefulness for all the blessings you already possess on the tip of your tongue or finger, the edge of sound, the periphery of your vision, that faint whiff of wonderful scent?

How can you make 2014 the Year of the Magical Summer?


  1. My brain is too tired to come up with an intelligent response, but I love the idea of looking for the magic again.
    And thankful for the reminder that it doesn't matter that kiddo's are blessing (despite the slipping grades :) ). They are soaking up the sun already and maybe that's what I need to do too!!

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  3. Your writing and creativity brings so much joy into my life and I want to thank you for that! Your post reminded me of a conversation I had with someone much older and wiser than me. She was the mother of 8 grown children and the perfect person to ask for some advice. I told her my older son's approach to living his life was the most similar to that of me and my husband while my younger son was vastly different and that, at times, was a great source of stress for me. She first asked me a question before she answered, "Does your younger son do things just to spite me or disobey me?" I said no and then she gave me some advice that changed my life: "OK's what you need to do: Celebrate the differences!" This one little gem opened up my heart to a completely new and wonderful relationship with my son...and opened my eyes to a magical being I had been totally missing! I started learning new things from him instead of me trying to teach him how to come around to the way I wanted him to be and think! It literally changed my life (and his life, too!) and for that, I will always think of that mother of 8 as an angel on Earth with an invisible halo!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this! What a beautiful "angel on earth" you had, and what great advice she gave you for all sorts of situations in our families! Love and acceptance truly are such a magical way!

  4. I love the Harry Potter! I have the audio books playing all the time. I'm now watching the movies or should I say they are playing in the background while I work on making cards in the evenings.
    I live in an area where there are a whole lot of "Tiger Moms" and pushing their children to be the top in the class.
    When my daughter was in high school, one of her friends was pushed to get top grades so she could get into UC Berkeley. Not a college she wanted to go to but one her mom did. When the girls applied, she was accepted but she forged a friend's letter of denial to show her mom. Her mom said "you're not smart enough or good enough to go to the best, I don't care now what school you go to!" She went on to the small art school she dreamed of going to and graduated. She then gave her mom the real letter from UC Berkeley at her college graduation and said "I'm smart enough and good enough but I went where it was best for me and not you."


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!