A lurking man in that half light, there where eye imagines sight, stops my heart until I see Lurking man is leaning tree.
What changed? The man? There was none. Tree? The tree was always there. Then me? I did not change. I came to see and what I saw, what was could be. ~Archibald MacLeish, from Collected Poems 1917 to 1982
Every day I look for what is obvious on the farm – the trees, the flowers, the animals, the clouds, the lighting – all the daily and mundane things surrounding me. More often than not, what I see is straight-forward, needing no extra mental processing or interpretation.
Occasionally, my mind’s eye sees more and I’m stopped in my tracks. What is it I’m seeing and how much am I simply imagining? I see what “could be” and that alone creates a new dimension to what, on the surface, is plain and simple. Suddenly what is plain becomes glorious – a flower is otherworldly, a cat transformed by light, a wet feather a thing of beauty, a tree moves and breathes as if it is on fire.
Because my mind’s eye wants to look deeper, I see more detail. Because I myself am complex, I seek out complexity. Because I need transformation and renewal, my mind seeks to transform and renew. Because nothing around me is quite as it seems on the surface, I am called upon to notice it, in its beauty and in its simplicity.
I am changed by imagining how glorious things could be.
Imagine what your mind’s eye can see in more Barnstorming photos in this book, available to order here:
Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. ~Stanley Horowitz
I’m not so different from an ear of mosaic maize, multifaceted pieces of tesserae fit together just so.
Depending on how the Light falls I could be tile to be tread or a kaleidoscope of stained glass reflections in sacred space, a gemstone necklace of colored beads, or simply corn on the cob hanging from a stalk.
Plain and infinitely luminous, just like the Artist Himself.
Open your hands, lift them.—William Stafford, “Today”
The parking space beside the store when you were late. The man who showed up just in time to hold the door when you were juggling five big packages. The spider plant that grew— though you forgot to water it. The new nest in the tree outside your window. Chime of distant church bells when you’re lonely. Rhyme of friendship. Apples. Sky a trove of blue. And who’s to say these miracles are less significant than burning bushes, loaves and fishes, steps on water. We are blessed by marvels wearing ordinary clothes— how easily we’re fooled by simple dress— Oranges. Water. Leaves. Bread. Crows. ~Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “But You Thought You Knew What a Sign Looked Like” from Naked for Tea
It was a dark and stormy night. Leaves were strewn everywhere this morning, but more cling tightly to branches, waiting for another night, another storm to come, knowing it will be sooner rather than later.
I feel a bit strewn myself, bits and pieces of me flung here and there, while the rest of me remains clinging, hanging on for dear life, wondering what comes next.
Can I weather the weather of life, tossed and drenched?
Truly, marvels and miracles abound wherever I look, sometimes dressed so plainly I miss them first time around. In fact, they are so glorious, I am blinded by them. To see these signs, to know their significance, I must simply open my hands, lift up my eyes, quiet my troubled heart and be content.
It is a lichen day. Not a bit of rotten wood lies on the dead leaves, but it is covered with fresh, green cup lichens… All the world seems a great lichen and to grow like one. ~Henry David Thoreau from his journal
Nature doth thus kindly heal every wound. By the mediation of a thousand little mosses and fungi, the most unsightly objects become radiant of beauty. There seem to be two sides of this world, presented us at different times, as we see things in growth or dissolution, in life or death. And seen with the eye of the poet, as God sees them, all things are alive and beautiful. ~Henry David Thoreau (journal)
I’m a bit of a lichen myself – a bit of an opportunist, thriving in drizzle, sometimes colorful but most often not.
Mostly I hang on. Persevering. At times obnoxiously tenacious.
A dreamer of fairy tale kingdoms while living simply in plain sight.
Some sings of the lily, and daisy, and rose, And the pansies and pinks that the Summertime throws In the green grassy lap of the medder that lays Blinkin’ up at the skyes through the sunshiney days; But what is the lily and all of the rest Of the flowers, to a man with a hart in his brest That was dipped brimmin’ full of the honey and dew Of the sweet clover-blossoms his babyhood knew? I never set eyes on a clover-field now, Er fool round a stable, er climb in the mow, But my childhood comes back jest as clear and as plane As the smell of the clover I’m sniffin’ again; And I wunder away in a bare-footed dream, Whare I tangle my toes in the blossoms that gleam With the dew of the dawn of the morning of love Ere it wept ore the graves that I’m weepin’ above.
And so I love clover–it seems like a part Of the sacredest sorrows and joys of my hart; And wharever it blossoms, oh, thare let me bow And thank the good God as I’m thankin’ Him now; And I pray to Him still fer the stren’th when I die, To go out in the clover and tell it good-bye, And lovin’ly nestle my face in its bloom While my soul slips away on a breth of purfume
~James Whitcomb Riley “The Clover Poem”
Lightly it flew to the pleasant home Of the flower most truly fair, On Clover’s breast he softly lit, And folded his bright wings there. ‘Dear flower,’ the butterfly whispered low, ‘Long hast thou waited for me; Now I am come, and my grateful love Shall brighten thy home for thee; Thou hast loved and cared for me, when alone, Hast watched o’er me long and well; And now will I strive to show the thanks The poor worm could not tell. Sunbeam and breeze shall come to thee, And the coolest dews that fall; Whate’er a flower can wish is thine, For thou art worthy all. ~Louisa May Alcott from “Clover-Blossom”
Can anything be as plain to the eye as one of a million clover blossoms?
Then you look up close.
There is nothing quite as lovely — each individual little bloom of the clover ball is a part of a greater whole.
Here is a place to tangle our toes and nestle our nose.
Here we roll over.
Here we find the sacredest sorrow and joy of our heart.
Here is a place to get lost and be found.
Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself. ~William Martin from The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. ~John Ruskin
We know the solace in the ordinary as life throws flowers at our feet.
Ordinary is each breath, each heart beat, each tear, each smile, one after another and another.
We are offered the gift of each ordinary moment; only grace makes it extraordinary.