14 April 2014

Stopping for Delight

Black Swallowtail

What stops your world?

The world might have stopped, just a little, when I was six and broke my arm and spent the night in the hospital, even though that night was my one chance to go to a Steve Greene concert.  But they did give me blueberry pie.  Oh, and the new outfit that actually fit over my new cast, a room full of flowers and balloons, and cinnamon toast whenever I wanted?  It wasn't an entire loss.

The world had stopped for crisis--stopped to mend, heal, and nurture a broken girl.

And you know what?  It worked.  Those days in a bright pink cast, the exact pattern on that new pair of sweats, and the little book brought home from my brother's class remain some of my most delightfully vivid memories.  People had cared about much more than just getting a bone back in place.  They had cared--tangibly--about me.

Another day, the world stopped for a hot air balloon flying over, just asking to be chased.  We got in the car, followed it to a big open field, and sure enough took a ride.

The world had stopped for delight--stopped to drink in the unexpected adventures of an ordinary day.

When I was in a college biology course at a marine station, the world stopped for whales.  Sure, it stopped for a couple of hours while the lab burned (crisis for sure!) and the fire trucks came and they had to decide where to hold lectures until the building could be refurbished, too.  But whales? 

No class of any level stayed in session when the whales swam by.  This was among the first day's rules and announcements section of the lecture:  We will drop everything and run for the boats if anyone sees a whale.

And we did, getting as close to mama and baby whales as would be respectful.  Delight, sheer and utter.

After college, when I got my first full-time adult job, I wasn't really sure what to expect.  At first, I feared the days would be drab and dull, filled with necessary but lifeless paperwork.  And there were some days that felt like that.  Then there were days filled with crisis, because after all we were there to help people and people face crises in life.

I soon learned, however, that crisis should not be and would not be the only thing allowed to stop the world.  There were other events in my office days that, no matter what, by instruction and example of my bosses, meant dropping anything and everything I was doing.

For example, if the man stood in the lobby playing Shenandoah on his harmonica, we stopped everything to listen, and begged for more.  Or if it was lilac season, and one of our regulars brought huge bunches from her bushes, I stopped to get out vases, making bouquets for every office.

I think it would be fair to say that lately, in spite of all this good training from childhood on up, I've been much too aware of and tuned into the crises that come along, threatening to take over the world.  

I've been forgetting to let the world stop for delight.

That's why, after thinking about all these things for a couple of days, I jumped up from the piano bench and my scales (which I love, by the way) to go follow the black fluttering thing out in the garden this afternoon.

Black swallowtails (at least this one) don't hold still very well, but with your permission I'll nevertheless use this little blurred photo of his wings to remind me to notice and follow the delights that beckon me out of my routines and crises.

Care to join me?

1 comment:

  1. 1. Love the memories! 2. Who could have predicted on that day what fun you would soon be having with swallowtail butterflies?!


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