Surrounded by Wild Roses

Dear Will:

If you’re anything like me (and I pray that you are not, in this case), you may have a tendency to allow everyday things to sort of blend together to the point that you hardly notice what’s always there. For instance, when I set a book at the top of the stairs with the intention of taking it down to the study later on, if I don’t follow through that same day the book becomes a fixture in the upstairs hallway. It’s as if it were part of the carpeting. I can become accustomed to things which are out-of-place to such a degree that they seem no longer out-of-place.

That bad habit is mostly just annoying, particularly if you’re married to me. Worse than that, however, is another side of that same phenomenon: the tendency to take for granted something remarkable because you see it everyday. When was the last time you paused to consider the amazing dexterity of your right thumb, the miracle of a flushing toilet, the sublime wonder of buttered toast. Hmmmm?

OK, I admit that even that is not really a big deal. What has me musing this evening is how easy it is for us to become unaware of the people who share our lives with us. The clerk at the store. The guy who delivers the morning paper. The 15-year-old kid who refuses to go to bed on time (that would be Luke). This weekend I realized, to my shame, that I devote much more energy to nagging/lecturing/chastising my kids about what they’re not doing than I do to reminding them how terrific they are for all that they do do. What kind of a loser dad am I?

I have a favorite poem by Wendell Berry. He wrote it about his wife, but I wish I had written it about my mine, because it speaks so well of the opportunity to rediscover something familiar:

The Wild Rose

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

And once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

How many wild roses do you have blooming around you? Do yourself—and your loved ones—a favor and tell them today how much they mean to you. I tried it myself, and it was wonderful.


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