This week I felt surrounded by ugliness. Mainly in the form of media, I just felt overwhelmed by the death, anger, hate and stupidity plastered all over the screen. I have realized that i’m usually pretty good at finding the beauty in my own personal little mess but I often have difficulty finding it in the mess of our society. It took some perspective but I found beauty in two places, one very unexpected and the other so expected I forget to count it at times.
The expected, but overlooked, beauty hit me as I sat in the middle of a pile of boxes, bags and products at church Wednesday night. I was surrounded by food & hygiene items my church family had generously donated to help me create crisis kits to be handed out to local woman in need. In a society full of “what can you do for me” I had asked a bunch of people to donate hundreds of dollars worth of supplies to bless a dozen local women we will never know and that is an amazing and beautiful thing. I sometimes forget how beautiful my fellow servants of Christ are because they are so humble but they are part of society and with them come the love and service modeled by Christ.
The unexpected place I found beauty was in a strong disagreement with my younger cousin. A disagreement seems like a weird place to find beauty but it was a good reminder that you can have completely different thoughts on anything, or everything, and still respect and care about a person. You can each think the other is wrong and still recognize that you are both intelligent, thoughtful people who just happen to have completely different starting perspectives because you are different people. In a world where the first hint of disagreement is typically met with name calling and vitrol it’s beautiful to have a discussion of an issue rather than just stone throwing.
It’s true when you begin really looking for beauty in life you will find it hidden in less than obvious places.
This week my moment of beauty came as I tried to clean blood out of washclothes and off my bathroom counter. I found myself reflecting on my gratitude for my children’s health and safety. Shortly before I had been holding a wet washcloth on my toddler’s mouth trying to slow the flow of blood gushing from her teeth. She had slipped on the bench at our table during dinner and her two top teeth connected with the edge pretty hard. I was upset and worried for a moment but once it was clear there more blood than anything I settled in to grateful. The minor injuries of my children’s lives are just that minor, small, momentary discomforts and for that I am tremendously thankful. It’s beautiful to have a healthy child, even one covered in blood.
At my Momtourage group (a group for moms of preschoolers) this past week we were challenged to try and find the beauty each day in the mess of life and parenting (because it’s always a little messy but with the right perspective it’s always beautiful too!). I’m better with accountability so for the next 4 weeks I am going to try and reflect on the week to see some beauty that might have otherwise been hidden. Hopefully, this can encourage you to do the same.
My son has become increasingly independent since he turned four, trying to do things on his own he’s never tried. Sometimes it’s great…sometimes it means my husband finds two ziploc baggies containing: playdough, water, pompoms and miscellaneous items in his bedroom…one slightly leaking. He’d helped me make gel writing bags for preschool a few weeks ago and thought he and his sister would like some at home… he would have asked me for help if he hadn’t been so confident he could figure it out himself! He explained his ingredients (playdough, water to make it squishier, pom poms he thought would change the color if they soaked in water and some pretty things since he didn’t have any glitter).
I could have gotten mad at him for the mess and the waste and the sneaking them in his room but I instead looked at his intentions. He truly thought he could surpise me when he made these cool pouches for him and his sister, his heart was in a beautiful place. I laughed at his attempt before throwing them away and promising we would buy more hair gel to make our own next week. I love this sweet, creative and independent side of him, in fact just writing this made me smile then give him a big hug again.
There is always beauty in the mess. Today of all days I remember that, what happened 14 years ago was ugly and horrible but from the ashes rose so many beautiful acts of love and compassion, they don’t change the damage but they give us hope.
Look for the beauty in the mess this week.
Last year I joined with two other moms to start up our own preschool co-op. It was a terrific experience that we all really enjoyed. The kids learned and played, we planned field trips (and spontaneously decided on a few more) that took us on nature hikes, to the planetarium and zoo and even for some physical education at a local indoor kids play space. They counted, sorted, colored and wrote their names, made crafts and science experiments and learned to navigate the social structure of an intergenerational classroom! (There is an art to navigating not just your peers but the younger siblings at play and the moms and dads teaching and supervising.)
Today we kicked off for year two! We have 3 new families and i’m looking forward to this years learning and growth! I want to encourage parents who think about joining or starting a co-op to jump in! We started months late last year, largely due to my own feet dragging caused by trepidation that it would be alot of work or not rewarding enough to justify the effort. When my friends and I jumped in I quickly realized it was not that much work (certainly less than just home preschooling him with no one to divide responsibilities was, I know I tried it a few months!) and it was tremendously rewarding!
Today was a typical first day, kids flitting about, somewhat sitting, interacting in the alternating shyness and excitement, siblings extra boisterous, parents still feeling out their roles. Soon we will all find a routine and rhythm and the children’s little sponge brains will soak up so much new information that we will be amazed. I am so thankful for this little piece of community I get to immerse my kids in.