Focus on the Beauty

            Ben and I bought our first home in a cute little river town called Marietta.  Occasionally, on a Saturday morning, I would take advantage of living near the water and head down to the river.  I loved to sit silently and watch the water.  It was a wonderful opportunity for me to unwind and to simply be.

            One morning, I was especially captivated by the glorious scene before me. The sky and river seemed serene. I felt small as I gazed at the mountains just beyond the river.  It was like I was staring at beautiful painting rather than at water, trees, and sky.  I had seen it many times before, but this particular morning, I allowed my mind quiet down enough to actually notice it.  And I was in awe.

            After a few minutes. I looked down to my left, and realized that there was an empty bag of chips there. I hadn’t noticed it when I first sat down.  I laughed at myself for my lack of observance, but thought it wasn’t that out of the ordinary.

            Then I looked at the ground next to the bag and realized that there was an empty plastic bottle.  And then another bag.  And more bottles.  As I widened my gaze around the area, I discovered that there was actually garbage everywhere. 

            “How did I not notice all this trash?” I thought myself. 

            But the answer came to me instantly.  I was overwhelmed by the artistry before me.  I chose to focus on that beauty, so I hadn’t noticed the garbage even though it had been there the whole time. 

            I have often thought about that morning.  The experience affirmed my belief that you will see what you look for in this world.  I already believed that what you focus on is what you will notice. If you are thinking about how cruel this world is and you look around for proof of that, I promise you will find it. But if you believe there is an abundance of love and kindness, look around for it and I promise you will see that too. You see what you look for and focus on. But it's all there.

             One day after a trip to the grocery store, I recorded some observations.

-          I saw a young woman help an elderly lady get a cart out from the row.
-          I saw a cashier give a free bag to a gentleman who needed one more (it was a store where you normally have to purchase bags).
-          I saw someone with a full cart let another person with only a few items go in front of them.
-          I saw multiple people ask the cashier how her day was going.

         All simple gestures, but they all made me smile.

            I don’t know about you, but as a mother of two small children and a baby, I don’t usually look forward to trips to the grocery store (which becomes apparent when we have nothing left to eat except for PB&J sandwiches and I still think I can put off shopping for one more day).  That day, however, a grocery shopping tripped filled my heart with joy. And simply because I chose to see the good there that day. 

            Beauty (however you define it) can be found in the most unexpected places. So, take the time to look for it.  It’s all around you, in your every day life, passing you by unnoticed.  It’s in simple activities that you do mindlessly with your kids, it’s in the sky you see every morning that you leave the house, it’s in your home, your kids’ hearts, it’s even in the dirty kitchen you have to clean up after dinner.

            And yes, among the beauty, there is likely a lot of garbage as well.  But if you focus on the beauty, the garbage won’t bother you as much. Maybe you won’t even notice it.