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  • Abstraction

    January 9, 2009


    During  a recent gift wrapping fest, Sean noticed this scrap of  ribbon that had fallen to the floor.

    “Mom! Look!” he shouted like Columbus discovering the Americas.

    “It’s a baby! This ribbon looks like a baby!”

    And so it does.

    I see trash on the floor.

    He sees art.

    Together, we stood over the ribbon and marveled at its simple beauty.   We decided that we would take a picture of it so we could keep it forever.

    As I looked at the scrap of ribbon through the lens of my camera, I thought of how an ordinary piece of ribbon destined for the trash had, through the eyes of a child, become a work of art. That is the alchemy of joy, where something of no value is transmuted into something of great value.

    I thought about how most often the joys in life are simple and unexpected and lying at our feet. And how as we get older and jaded, we forget how to spot them.

    I am glad I have a five-year-old to help point them out.


    1. Joni says:

      It is beautiful how God allows us to see things! I saw a backwards J!

      January 9th, 2009 at 11:30 am

    2. Steffj89 says:

      Isnt it amazing the things a 5 y/o sees out of seeming bits of nothing…after Christmas I saw a big empty stroller box, K saw a fort and has drawn a tv and chairs and games inside it…

      January 9th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    3. JanMary, N Ireland says:

      It is a wonderful privilege to see the world through the eyes of a child.

      January 9th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    4. Jenny 8675309 says:

      I saw the exact flooring I need! My white flooring shows every speck of dirt.

      January 9th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    5. Beverlydru says:

      Yes!! I have heard it said that we need to spend more time with people over 70 and under 5. The wisdom and the wonder.

      January 9th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    6. edj says:

      Actually I would argue that that is the eye of an artist. Ordinary people see trash, see nothing; the artist’s eye sees form and shape and texture and beauty. You’ve got a budding artist on your hands!

      Just wait till he starts bringing really nasty trash into the house (But Mom! I’m going to photograph it!) or, even worse, collecting it in his room. 😉

      Oh but edj, I am an artist. I have a degree in art. I think sometimes I have just forgotten how to see. I think we all start out as artists, as children. And then the world with all it’s logic and busyness and cynicism gets in the way.

      The hauling in of treasures has already started, but so far it’s pine cones and rocks and pretty leaves and not anything that breathes! ~ AM

      January 9th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    7. Luke Holzmann says:

      “…alchemy of joy…”

      I love your writing.

      This is definitely one of the many blessings of children: They remind us of the wonder of the world.


      January 9th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    8. Theresa says:

      Your last three posts are highlighting the message in the book I am reading called ‘*A New Earth”. It is all about seeing and being in the Now, even when, or maybe especially when it is not particularly pleasant.

      January 9th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    9. Sarah S. says:

      Thank you for recording it not just to save for the two of you forever, but to share with us to remind us to look at ‘trash’ a little differently!

      January 9th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    10. 3limes says:

      This is beautiful and what I love the most both about having children and teaching.
      Your writing is gorgeous, that is why I keep checking back.

      January 9th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    11. Amy says:

      AHHH! Excellent again. I can relate as I see my familiar world through the eyes of my two toddlers who are just discovering it. I love the “alchemy of joy” phrase.Just excellent.

      January 9th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    12. HarryJacksMom says:

      Beautiful, their little hearts :wub: That’s the best use of our digital camera these days, preserving wonderful things without cluttering our house 😉 Happy weekend!

      January 9th, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    13. Gretchen says:

      Glad he pointed them out to me, too.

      January 9th, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    14. Minnesotamom says:

      And a baby it is, too.

      January 9th, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    15. Julie at Elisharose says:

      My 8-year-old sees hearts everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It’s uncanny. Rocks, leaves, torn paper, pieces of chicken, for crying out loud. I should start photographing them for her to collect. That’s a great idea.

      January 9th, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    16. Twisted Cinderella says:

      I love to look at the world through the eyes of my children. It becomes such a wonderful and lovely place.

      January 9th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    17. Carrie says:

      Oh, how sweet. It is neat to see life through your children’s eyes. By the way, I think your blog is ‘fabulous’! I nominated you for a fabulous award at my place:

      January 9th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    18. Angie says:

      Beautiful in so many ways. These little ones bring much wisdom and joy into our lives. So glad you could see through Sean’s eyes today and share with all of us.

      January 9th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    19. kiy says:

      Oh my, it is a baby, isn’t it? I love Sean’s viewpoints on things. But not as much as his mama does, I am sure.

      Thank you for sharing little bits of Sean with us. A priceless gift, to be sure.


      January 9th, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    20. Iota says:

      He learns from you. You did exactly this in yesterday’s post. You turned a broken down old ruin into a work of art.

      January 9th, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    21. Nette says:

      How did you get from “‘whatever’, let’s just get this mess cleaned up because I’m tired and I still need to make dinner and I don’t have anything thawed out”, to “let me bask in this moment of my child finding art in an accident (which is the best kind)and grab my camera and take a shot or two or three so I can write about my thoughts about this”. Which, by the way, those thoughts that you wrote would take me all day to summize. You seemed to have come up with it in a moment. In a word, I’m amazed.

      Yet, when I saw it I saw a woman holding onto her life by one hand while gazing at and cradling her swollen womb with the other. She has no choice but to hang there, in the balance, for the both of them. I guess I could attribute this to my balancing life that I perform everyday for my children (as does my husband for all of us).

      Wow. Maybe thoughts do come that quickly. Thank you, AM, for giving me reason to pause and to savor a moment.

      January 9th, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    22. Grace says:

      Oh, it is a baby! Plain as day. And Sean is an angel. Plain as day. For he certainly delivers messages from God.

      January 10th, 2009 at 12:12 am

    23. RefreshMom says:

      Aren’t 5 year olds the best!? I love how enthusiastically my boy will describe something as ‘delicious’ or ‘beautiful’ or will gush about his “lucky day” when he sees a freight train. It’s sad that those things make me laugh with surprise and delight–I hope that somehow he can hold on to that for many years. I need to hear it!

      January 10th, 2009 at 2:23 am

    24. Nikolaj says:

      Awww, that’s just great! 🙂

      It must be fun watching the clouds with him.

      January 10th, 2009 at 6:08 am

    25. Shalee says:

      I think that this is part of what Jesus meant when he said that we must be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. We must have eyes that see people/things as they should be – beautiful, lovable, full of wonder and surprise. If we can let the simplicity of thoughts rule our lives the way it does for children, then we grasp what it means to believe that the impossible happened: God humbled himself to become human, to sacrifice himself for us, so that we could be freed from sin. The world views that statement as trash and ugly and impossible; I see it as amazingly beautiful and utterly possible.

      Okay, not quite on subject, but that’s what struck me first.

      I love that you let Sean change your point of view.

      January 10th, 2009 at 8:28 am

    26. Pam says:

      Ahhh, the innocence of children! So sweet.

      January 10th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    27. Stretch Mark Mama says:

      I think I probably became jaded around age 7. (months) And it’s only gotten worse from there.

      My son is the same way as Sean. Trash = art. Me? I was in the womb barking about all the mess. The mess! The mess! The mess mess mess!

      January 12th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    28. TheChickadeefeeder says:

      It’s also sad when you see something like that–and you’re in the house alone, with no one to point it out to. That’s happening to me more and more now. Yesterday the soap going down the drain made a most amazing picture!

      January 14th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    29. Allison says:

      Years ago a silver piece of ribbon was found in the Christmas decoration box. My son threw it on the tree and it found its way back to the box. Every year it gets thrown someplace on the tree. And every year I think I should throw it away but I don’t. He is 14 now.

      January 21st, 2009 at 7:19 pm

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