As I drew the broom across our wood floors, the evidence of a life lived with children piled up. Yes, there was dust. But I also saw small sticks, Easter grass, tabs to yogurt tubes, small clumps of mud from shoes, indoor soccer field filings, and tiny scraps of crayon-colored paper. I had swept it all clean just the day before—so discouraging to need it again so soon. Parenting is far messier than we usually first envision what having a family might be like. Yet, amid my efforts to clean my house and make everything orderly, my son gave me a lesson in how to approach life.
I was pulling the broom against the dustpan when I saw it: a tiny feather, white and fluffy, tipped with brown, no bigger than a thumbnail. It danced across my pile, skipping happily over the sticks and dust. I knew this feather. Calling to my youngest son, I asked, “Buddy, is this your feather?”
Memories from the past several days flooded forth. His joy at finding the feather while walking on a forest path. His dismay at losing the feather in our van on the way home. His excitement when his brother helped him locate it under the seats. His determination as he sought just the right place to put the feather in our busy family home.
Coming to me, he bent at the waist and looked down at the dusty mess. His hand reached down and gently lifted the flighty thing for a moment of closer inspection. A smile broke forth. Wrapping his arms around my waist, he pulled me close and exclaimed, “Oh momma, it IS my feather! You found it. Thank you so much!” His joy overflowed into gratitude.
He turned and ran off, excited to share his tale with his siblings outdoors. I was left standing in the midst of some great mess, awash with reminders about what it means to live with kids. His joy was too much for himself, it needed to be shared.
The season of parenting finds us in the midst of dirt and chaos, but treasures can be found if only we stop to see them. It is the wonder of this time, this work; but it can be lost in our insistence upon sweeping the remnants of childhood away in exchange for a perfectly tidy life. Except this is not a tidy time.
As my children play outside and explore the world, they are not aware of the dirt or germs or danger or mess because they are fully distracted by the wonder that floats right past. And if we can rub the grown-up out of our eyes, maybe we can see it too. God is in the business of adding beauty to our lives, unexpected and lilting and lovely.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge (Psalm 19:1-2).
Yet, too often it is only the children who see it. In the most unexpected places, a miraculous morsel appears. Lilies of the Valley beneath a dormant bush. A scarlet flash of a cardinal wing against the brown of early spring. A feather atop a dust pile on a floor that was recently clean. Wondrous gifts. If only we have eyes to see.