As my eldest daughter turned four on Friday, we went to the park to celebrate her love of nature, her rambunctious spirit, and the beauty of the post-Halloween-storm sunny and clear day! It really was a perfect Fall day - crisp breeze in the air, leaves crunching under your sneakers, and the sound of children's laughter resonating in the wind.
Matilda loves the outdoors. I think she would spend eternity out there if I let her, just exploring nature's jungle gym of trees and the unknown world of horticulture that awaits her every step. But, even more than the outdoors...she loves to PLAY. And, so, you can see why the playground is her absolute favorite thing in her limited four-year-old universe.
As she bounced from step to step, to slide, to ladder, to swing, to step, to ladder, to (okay, you get the picture, I'm raising a monkey)...whew! She managed to make her way to the edge of the playground where there is a short, brick wall that you can climb up on. As she climbed up, she spotted a few lady bugs dotting the top of the wall, taking in the afternoon sun.
"Ohhh, my LADIES!" she burst. And suddenly she was down on their level, eager to see if one of them would climb upon her tiny hand. A couple of them would get close, and she would squeal with delight at their touch. I watched as she was fully engaged with them. Nothing else existed in that moment for her. These were her lady bugs and she was totally enraptured by them.
When's the last time I felt that way by accident? I thought to myself. And, I didn't really have an answer. Sure, there are times I purposefully throw myself into something to focus on how passionate I am...but, to just stumble upon that kind of passion by accident is very rare.
So many times I'm too distracted to truly absorb the beauty of the present. I do my best to not miss a moment that involves my kids or some special moment. But, when I'm in the midst of my everyday, mundane routine, I can easily gloss over the details. Sometimes I even think this is necessary for my survival, so that I can just get things done! But, I had to wonder - what am I missing out on when I do that?
Sure enough, the lady bug moment was over in a few short minutes. She was up in a leap and quick to find the next wholeheartedly wondrous item to cast her devotion upon. (I think it was a slug.) But, it was so beautiful to watch my child just BE there, and commit herself to the present.
This is exactly why it's such a privilege to be a parent, to witness these haphazard blessings that sprout up in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I'll notice a lady bug next time it lands on my shoulder...or, maybe I'll smile at that grumpy lady in the grocery store as she passes by because I took the extra second to notice her...or, maybe I'll take a deep breath the next time I feel like spitting words of fire that I can't take back...so many maybes are up for grabs.
But each "maybe" starts with that extra moment; that second to think, to engage, to be present in what's happening in the here and now.
And each maybe can be turned into a miracle that can change so many moments to come.