What do you see?
There are signs all around us, if we keep our eyes and our minds open. We interpret those omens or portents the way we see fit. Sometimes I decide that a particularly beautiful sunset has appeared just for me. A welcome to the new day of my very own. I'm not especially superstitious, but I'm also not afraid to assign significance to seemingly random events around me. After all, it's what you do with a "sign" you interpret as meant for you that really matters.
Do you change your course when a black cat crosses your path? That's superstitious and slightly silly. On the other hand, if you change your driving habits when you narrowly avoid a terrible collision because you "had a feeling" -- that's making good, sound use of a "sign."
One of the most rewarding aspects of going camping is the chance to break free of the clutter of our everyday lives, the chance to spend some time just looking at the beauty around us. We used to call it 'communing with nature.' Great thoughts have emerged while looking into the intricate movements of a blazing fire. (Remember the story about the double helix?)
Over the years I've locked eyes with a feisty crow, been mesmerized by the jerky ballet of a foraging squirrel, and been awed by the grace of a circling hawk. I've watched my kids play together and listened to their laughter, without them realizing I was paying attention. Looking outward at the often overlooked activities around us gives us pause to look inward with insight, too.
Are there signs all around us, every day? Sure there are, if we only know how to interpret them. You can't find the meanings listed in a book. And your message won't be the same as mine, even if the sign we see is identical. What we see when we look, what we notice in the collage of life around us, and what we make of whatever catches our attention all relates to what is in our minds and in our hearts on that day in that moment.
Country music artist George Stait, a steadfast lover of philosophical lyrics in his songs, recently released I Saw God Today. The opening verse illustrates this thought beautifully:
Just walked down the street to the coffee shop
Had to take a break
I'd been by her side for 18 hours straight
Saw a flower growin' in the middle of the sidewalk
Pushin' up through the concrete
Like it was planted right there for me to see.
What do you see in the photo that heads this post? That's one piece of my bluestone sidewalk with an ordinary leaf flattened against it. Maybe that's all you see in the photograph. I saw it as a sign.
The evening I took that picture, I'd been having one of those days. You know the kind: three or four small irritations pile up into an emotional mountain. I was half-way miserable, ready to snap at anyone who crossed my path. And then, there on my sidewalk, I saw a gleaming heart surrounded by a frame. Saw it so clearly that for a moment I thought my wife has pasted it there for me to see. In a way, she had. I just needed a reminder that love is all around me; I just had to keep my eyes open.
copyright 2008 - all rights reserved
How about you? Do you have a photograph you'd like to share? If you'd like to submit your photograph for possible posting, you can reach me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.