In the spirit of my intention this year—to be mindful vs. mind full--I was at a gathering the other day and my attention was immediately drawn to the corner of the room where a fully-blooming Amaryllis was displayed on the side table. Its beauty was shocking. Such a weirdly amazing flower! It was “planted” in a glass vase making the bulb and the root tendrils fully visible in the water at the bottom. My first thought was…how could these magnificent red blooms emerge from such a common-looking brown bulb?
As I tried to stay present to this scene of beauty, I began to ponder about how my expectations can cause me to discount the good that can come from what appears to be ordinary or insignificant—like an ugly brown bulb. A few incidents from the past week came to mind:
- I moved my chair around at the breakfast table to see the bird my 4 year old granddaughter was pointing to. No big deal. But just that movement was enough to show Violet that I was paying attention to what was important to her in that moment. She excitedly described the bird and wanted to look it up…which got my 98 year old father engaged and interacting with her. Typically, Violet is irritated with her great-grandfather’s somewhat left-field comments (“Someday you’re going to be an opera singer.”), but on this occasion they were sitting side-by-side poring over the pages of our bird book. Wow.
- As I was getting ready for bed, my husband slid over to my side while reading his book and warmed up the sheets so I didn’t have to hit the cold sheets. A small gesture, but one that generated such positive regard. 🙂
- I got an email from a neighbor who needed some resources for a family concern. I had the information she needed, so I easily wrote it up and was ready to hit the “send” button. But I paused and recalled that, not many months before, she had reached out to me. I decided to go to my Sent Items to refresh my memory. That email reminded me of the larger narrative in her life and I added a few thoughts and a question to my email. Her grateful response made me realize that, in each encounter, I have a choice to be transactional and get the job done, or I can go the extra mile and treat the request with more care. It makes a difference.
- A cousin texted to let me know that she had received the mailing I sent her to her new address. She was glad to stay in the loop even though she is farther away. I decided to take the time to send her some pictures from the family Christmas gathering so that she could know she was missed. It only took a few seconds. No big deal. But apparently it was to her. Within minutes came a call that let me know it meant a lot.
Small, ordinary gestures. They have the potential to create relational connection and community beyond your expectation or imagination. Take a lesson from the amaryllis!