What Ben Saw

November 27, 2013 — 16 Comments


Ben and I were in the backyard, manhandling the unwieldy leaves that fall from our two willows, when he saw it.

“Come over here, daddy. Look!” Ben’s voice was urgent, his eyes flashing.

And there it was, in the cold November air. A flowering rose, bright and beautiful, right on the other side of the fence. It was hidden behind a small pine sapling, and easy to miss. Unless you have Ben’s eyes, which are always looking for the beautiful and the hidden.

My adult brain immediately spun into action. How can a rose be blooming when we are collecting leaves in the late fall? Why would anyone plant it there, so obviously tucked away and out of view? Is it fake? Who would put a fake flower in the ground?

Ben wasn’t thinking any of those things as he knelt down at this altar on the other side of the fence.

What does it mean to find unexpected beauty just outside of your boundary lines? What would it be like to look for it?

To expect it?

You would have to exchange your adult eyes – which have grown blind – for the eyes of a child, which can see wonder and beauty, especially when it’s not expected.

There are roses blooming everywhere. Behind the checkout counter. In your bed, stirring next to you as you wake up. On the corner downtown, holding a sign and not making eye contact. In the anxious gait of your supervisor as she sprints down the hall. In the kindergarten teacher who whispers to my four year old that he is an artist. Even in the drug addict, strung out and strung along.

And especially in the mirror. Can you see it? This is maybe the hardest place to find it, but there it is: blooming and beautiful and alive.

This Sunday, we begin the season of advent, when we long for bright roses in dark places. When we look for the hidden and unexpected light to dawn. When we open our blind eyes and wait for what we know is there, to appear.

Here’s the secret: It’s seeing the hidden roses that make them bloom. Of that I am utterly convinced.

So open your eyes and see them. They are right in front of you, and everywhere.


16 responses to What Ben Saw

  1. Hey Steve! I’ve been enjoying your blog posts, as they show up in my email box, and wanted to pop in and say hi. Your topics are timely, your titles are catchy and your thoughts are terrific. Keep up the great work!
    I was scrolling through some of your older posts and found this one. It reminds me of an incident I witnessed in downtown Denver this summer, and have been meaning to blog about. It is so much like the theme of this post you wrote, about children seeing the world through pure eyes.
    We live in the mountains of CO but when we have guests come to visit, one of the items on our ‘cheap things to do/see’ list is the stream that runs behind the huge REI building in downtown Denver. The city has done an amazing job of landscaping it to be people-friendly and it’s a fun alternative to paying hundreds of dollars to visit a water park, for many struggling families in the Denver area.
    Everyone brings their inner tubes, floaties, and rafts, and take turns floating down the stream, over some mini rapids, and then walking back up the sidewalk to take another run.
    Because I’m a mommy with an artificial leg, sometimes I sit out on the rafting, esp if we are only doing it for a short time, since drying out my leg can be labor intensive and the time in the water has to be worth the effort!
    One day this summer I was sitting on the lovely boulders about halfway down the creek, watching families (including mine) enjoy the cool water on a hot July day. It was a great people watching day and I esp enjoyed seeing all the excited preschoolers and toddlers, as the demographic in our house is now in the teens.
    As one dad and his little girl walked by me for the third time, something caught her eye and she stopped near where I was sitting. I was ready for the questions about my cool robot leg to begin, but it was not my hardware that made her stop in her tracks.
    “Look Daddy!,” she said, “Towels! They left towels for us!”
    Some other water loving family had left their stack of towels on some rocks nearby, and as she walked by them, this little girl’s very first thought was that towels had been provided by the universe.
    It never occurred to her that they might belong to someone else. She was wet, and in need of a nice soft towel, and whaddaya know, there they were, just waiting for her.
    I was so touched by her ability to believe that the world is a kind, loving place, full of fluffy towels, right when you need them most. Something tells me that your Ben might have had the same thought, had he walked by that inviting stack of unclaimed towels.
    Keep the thought provoking posts coming. I grew up in a huge foster family, going to our big Baptist church three times a week. I followed all the rules laid out by Sunday School teachers and my overworked parents and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s (and my mom died suddenly, right after her 50th bday) that I felt like I could finally challenge all of the things I was brought up with and taught to blindly believe. Your posts help me a lot, as I continue to sort out what I believe.
    I’ve written a memoir about my decision to become an elective amputee a decade ago, and in the early chapters I tell about my spiritual struggle, and how I sometimes believe my mom had to be gone, for me to have the courage to have my leg voluntarily cut off. The book’s website is justonefoot.com
    There are before and after pics there, as well as a sample chapter and links to essays and websites that might help other amputees.If you need something to scroll through while you eat your ham sandwich at lunch, feel free to pop on over.
    Have a great holiday season. This is the time of year that having little ones in the house can be frustrating and totally joyous, all at the same time. Be sure to ENJOY!

    • Wow, Judy. Thanks so much for this precious, beautiful story of the towels. Amazing. And I will check out your web site – your story intrigues me! And you have a great holiday season, too. Our night tonight has been crazy – so we’ll hope for some joy soon!

  2. Man- two things struck me. beauty. and the all around moments of it. Great post steve — I looked back a couple and saw the idea that we all have something that takes the pain away…powerful.

  3. Thank you for your passion to help me and others see people and the beauty all around us in such a beautiful and unique way. Stretching our minds, cultivating a new way of thinking and bringing new life! Your heart, thoughts and passion have brought so much LIFE to me and my family! I want you to know that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!! Not only here but as our pastor as well!!
    Blessings to you and your family!

  4. We’ve been hit by a snowstorm a month earlier than usual. I’m mad because I can’t get outside and go for my runs, which keep me sane. My children are in awe as my daughter plays with the ‘snow fairies’ and my son finds ways to keep up with his sister rolling down the hill. Thank you for the reminder to look for what they see.

  5. How cool is this?! And, a gentle, wonderful reminder to look. To see. To expect God where we least expect Him. Thank you!

  6. A great reminder, especially this week, to look for those random bits of beauty hiding behind all the stress.

    Love it.
    Bill Saunders recently posted…Catch of the Day: PerspectiveMy Profile

  7. amazeballz, Steve! as always. how is it that you are the blogger I share so regularly on my FB page! i hope you get new followers because of it and you soften their hearts and open their eyes as you do mine. THANK you for your constant words i need!
    xxxxx hugs from the East

  8. This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you.
    Deb recently posted…Chosen and HonoredMy Profile

  9. Love this!

    Such a good reminder!

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