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.

29 thoughts on “Abstraction

  1. 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…

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.


  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

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