It was while bending one milky stem of a dandelion around the frothy yellow flower-cap of another that I heard her elderly voice: “What are you finding?” Thinking the lady about to reprimand me for having pulled something from the edge of her well-manicured lawn, I hesitated; “Just making a daisy chain,” I finally said, still admiring her lovely landscaping. But the interchange that quickly transpired called me back from across the street to the feet of an 84-year-old woman I’m now happy to call a new friend.
Gifts Under Our Noses
Rita not only welcomed me to walk across her lawn, but gave me a private garden tour, offered me the use of her choicest garden tools, begged me to rip into the soil to help “thin out” her carefully-chosen perennial flowers and take some home. She offered me the two greatest gifts gardeners have to offer one another: samples from and trust to dig into her garden. I picked a cardboard box from her garage, the size of the tool, and whatever flowers I wanted- and we were both filled with gratitude. Aren’t such gifts many times right under our noses, if we’ll just stop long enough to notice?
There is nothing, for a gardener, that comes close to these moments; sharing stories of lives and plants, and lives of plants, while in the tactile business of plunging one’s hands into the soil and liberating compacted bulbs- and being honored as their recipient. Nothing like sharing the joy of the first spring sunshine on your shoulders and your friend’s when she lives alone and just recovered from double pneumonia. Nothing like sharing your knowledge of latin plant names and meeting fragrant vibernum calisi for the first time.
But how are these moments afforded? Especially for a borderline introvert like me?
I gleaned practical wisdom years ago from Hebrews 13:2 of the Christian scriptures, which reminds, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Now, in the case of me and my friend Rita, she showed hospitality to a stranger by her great effort in walking outside, with difficulty, to welcome (rather than shoo) me though I fully believe it was I who was entertaining an angel. I do know my part full well and here it is:
I was resting, having chosen to wander outside aimlessly to daydream, open to whatever the good Lord had in mind. Had I not, I would have missed this huge blessing. What if I’d just curled up in a corner with my iPhone?
Having just read Matthew Sleeth’s book 24/6, on the import of taking a weekly day of rest, I was conscious of my need to do so. I’d left a family gathering just as people fell into small-group repartee that didn’t need my presence, and stepped outside. Once there, my eyes were drawn to the end lakeside house with an inviting stone porch, surrounded by flowers and lush lawn, the outer edges of which was speckled with dandelions. For a brief moment, my mind wandered to the idea of living in the area and I thought,” THAT’S the house I’d want- right by the lake, and surrounded by a garden.” My next thought was a familiar one, of whether I’d ever pursue a late-life career in landscape design. It never occurred to me that within moments I’d be welcome guest and gardener at this very home, and friends with the homeowner, whose son is apparently the community developer.
Who knows where our friendship and future conversations may lead. As I tell my daughter whose about to launch to college: Every one you meet is an important connection & relationship; take care. And taking care means making time, not filling every moment as out techie-world demands.
5 Steps to Avoid Missing the Moments Intended for You
Looking more closely at what made this possible, I did 5 things. I recommend you try these to avoid missing the great moments waiting to happen:
- Choose to rest, not “surf” a few moments each day
- Allow yourself time to daydream (see Psychology Today’s recent article )
- Be open, alert to the beauty around you
- Say “yes” to an invitation
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty- dive in!
There it is! 5 Steps- easy if you’ll take time for you. Let me know what happens next!