“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?