After the winter passed, Ian and I started taking Charlotte on more walks outside. When she learned to walk it was December – cold and snowy. We kept her in the stroller until a couple months ago when the snow cleared from the ground and she has been enjoying learning to walk in shoes after being barefoot for most of her life, go wherever she pleases, and just explore the world at her own pace. She has taught me many things just from simply walking around on her own. I have learned to trust in her and that she will learn to pick herself up when she falls, to be patient when she is slow and just enjoy not being in a rush, and to look more closely at pretty much everything.
Charlotte loves looking at little things. Any stick, pinecone, or leaf she can find becomes a treasure to be shared. She picks up even the most crusted up nasty pinecone and runs to us with it in the air above her head and a smile on her face. She places it excitedly in our hands and grunts (since she can’t speak yet). She even makes sure that we keep it for long enough until she finds the next thing to bring us. Recently she has learned what a tree is. She keeps her hands up in the air in the stroller pointing to every.single.tree she sees and trying in her own way to say “Tree!” I remember that the world is still so new to her, and am amazed and what it must be like to see things with fresh eyes. Imagine the joy we would feel if we all tried to look at things with fresh eyes.
When sitting down to write this blog I had no inspiration. I asked Ian and my mom both what to write about and was finding it hard to accept any suggestions. So I tried to sit down and lean in. What was I feeling? Heaviness, despair, sadness. The world around us feels so dark. More COVID restrictions, violence, death. How can my daughter find joy in pinecones when there is so much to worry about? It is because she looks closely. She can only see what is right in front of her – each little piece. If she looked at the whole playground like I did, she might see all the garbage, the mess, the kids not in school, and the adults with stressed faces. But she doesn’t know that yet, and I am grateful. She knows beauty in sticks and grass. She knows to listen for the sounds of birds and wait for dogs to walk by. She is learning how to run and talk. Her brain is too new to see the bigger picture. She must look more closely. And I think I need to do that as well.
I hope one day that I can teach Charlotte about grief. I want her to know that hard things exist and that the world is heavy. I want her to be able to feel a range of emotions and be empathetic towards many people. I hope she is compassionate and kind and holds space for people. But I hope she remembers to look closely too. To focus on one thing at a time. To see beauty in small things. To look at one thing before examining the bigger picture. To keep learning and exploring and finding joy in being patient.
I know these days are hard. I still don’t think I know what to write about. But I do know that there is hope in a few things… that being the joy of children and flowers. So I hope today’s lesson from Charlotte speaks to you and I hope this picture helps as well. We see this tree on our daily walk and we stop to watch the flowers open. We take our time and look closely. And from this angle? Well, the world seems a little less scary.
Peace to you.
I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org