I found myself reminded recently of the power of awe to transform understanding and outlook. It happened while walking with my three-year old granddaughter. Her exuberance for all things buggy, wiggly and muddy made me stop and reconsider how I viewed the worm in the garden or the giant writing spider on the bean vines. She was enthralled. I was not – at least not at first!
The walk began as many of our outdoor adventures do with her wanting to draw a “road” using sidewalk chalk on our driveway. To create a path for her to run up and down – a practice started by her mom at the beginning of spring! It was genius, complete with a stop sign drawn at the end – grand knows when she reaches the sign she has to turn around! How did youngest child get to be such a wise parent? Anyway, the road running lasted for a bit and then morphed into a game of where is the road taking us?
The road led, as all roads do, to where the fairies live – where else would a magical road created from chalk lead. But as everyone knows, to find fairies you have to move from driveways and sidewalks. You have to go where it is quiet and sheltered as fairies are skittish and need a place to hide. You have to move to grass, trees, flowers and woods.
So we tiptoed over to the rose bushes and looked under leaves, smelled the flowers and quietly reassured the fairies that we just wanted to play for the afternoon. We didn’t find them there but we did find a beetle – he was fascinating in his hard shell that seemed to change colors with the light. We watched him for some time.
But the fairies still called so we moved to the day lilies – maybe we would find an entire fairy village among their long green leaves and bright yellow flowers. As gently as we could we pushed back the stalks to see if any tiny houses or buildings lay beneath but no fairy village was to be found. Instead we found a dragonfly darting above and around the flowers. Her transparent wings were breathtaking. And so we stood and watched her for a bit before moving on.
Next stop was under the giant Magnolia tree that my parents planted over forty years ago. Surely fairies would be under the shade of the glossy leaves and fragrant blooms. “If I were a fairy, I would want to live here,” she said. There were no fairies but we did see a bumble-bee hovering over the large white works of art that a Magnolia tree produces every year. We stopped and listened quietly to his buzz, buzzing and then thanked him for all his hard work before moving on!
The butterfly weed – that has to be the spot. As you guessed, no fairies but butterflies everywhere. We stood enchanted as they danced above the plants.
And then to the bright red bee balm which held no fairies but did have a hummingbird eating vigorously from the nectar they offered.
Last stop was to the potted plants on the patio. Maybe fairies like to live in small enclosed places that a terracotta pot containing bright red, summer geraniums could provide. We never fully made it to look in the pots as a group of small ants was moving around the patio at our feet. “Stop, Gigi!! We have to be careful where we step because they are little and we are so big!” she said. So we squatted there and watched the ants. They were busy moving here and there – we were mesmerized at their activity. I wonder where they are going, I asked. “Home to their families. That is why we have to be careful their moms and dads would be sad if they got hurt,” she said. Yes, indeed they would.
What would the world be like if we stopped, looked and listened with grateful and open hearts to the natural space, the created world around us more often. If we took a moment and remembered that everyone and every living thing is trying to get home to their families. If we remembered that we are so big and therefore need to step carefully. If we stopped to consider how our actions impact the lives of those we encounter. From bugs to birds to babies – we are all connected. What would that world where life and lives are cherished look like?
It is worth imagining! It is worth working, hoping and praying for.
From one Gigi to all the other Gigi’s and Mimi’s and Granny’s… Nuna’s and Lolly’s and Oma’s our babies are worth it.