Somewhere along the way, in the bumpy course of my life, my eyes had become crusted over with the cynical smog and gunk and goo of the world. Bad news for an artist. I had just stopped seeing the exquisite surprises that God puts in my path every day. And I didn’t even realize it. Until Sean came along.
Having a little boy to point out the spot of bright red in a sepia colored world has been a marvelous and soul-healing thing. Sean has opened the eyes of my heart to see the wonder of the world again through his eyes and this, for me, has been the gift of parenthood.
Not too long ago, we had breakfast at IHOP and if ever there is a place where the world gathers up her cynicism, it’s at IHOP. We always seem to get some world worn waitress named Blanche who is all business but calls everyone honey. Blanche is probably 53 but looks 73 from smoking three packs a day and having worked at IHOP since she was 16.
As Blanche sets down the plate of pancakes before us, Sean shrieks with delight, “Oh Mommy! A strawberry!” he gasps. “Look! She brought us a strawberry!” And then he looks up at Blanche and gives her a smile that would light up the dark side of the moon.
But Blanche doesn’t take notice. “Anything else honey?” she asks instead. Sean claps his hands together with glee and laughs his own funny little staccato laugh over the sight of such a rare and unusal thing. He picks it off the side of the plate and examines it.
Powdered sugar snows down on everything between the plate and his shirt. He holds it to his button nose and inhales deeply leaving a dusting of white behind. He feels of its bumpy texture. He offers me a sniff by shoving it firmly up my nose. Then he looks at me and smiles. A strawberry! Tiny white teeth and dimples punctuate the moment — those dimples that daily prick the tender underside of my crusty, cynical heart. It is so hard to be crusty and cynical when there are dimples.
I look at him as he licks what’s left of the the powdered sugar off the strawberry. I think of his happy little heart, still pure and unstained by the world, a world which cannot, will not, be distracted away from it’s cynicism long enough to appreciate the beauty of a single strawberry on a plate of pancakes.
In that moment, the strawberry and the boy are so blindingly and shockingly and painfully beautiful that it makes my eyes hurt. And I want to eat them both up.
This boy, he has opened the eyes of my heart.