collecting hope

My parental heart swells with pride. But more than that, my hope for this world is revived in this moment.

My son is not getting an award. He’s not starring in any big performance. He didn’t just graduate. This is a small act, really. Unnoticed and uncelebrated by anyone who might happen to see. Including my son.

He’s not pointing out his actions with the common, “Mom! Watch me!” that accompanies most acts children think are spectacular. Or the, “Did you see what I just did?” when they want to receive credit for what they have done.

And maybe that’s what made this all the more amazing to me. The fact that it was no big deal was a really big deal.

Because I, like most people, want this world to be a better place. But I am completely overwhelmed by the thought of making the whole world better.

And not just better on the outside, the tangible things we see, our behaviors. I want the world to be better from the inside out. Better because people care more. About the environment. About one another. About themselves.

Because change from the inside out – transformation – is a lasting change. This kind of change usually indicates a healing and making whole of damaged people.

So of course sometimes I feel a little hopeless. Because while I often see the incredible beauty in humanity, I also see the terrible brokenness of it. And sometimes I am crushed with despair.

Because I can’t put the world back together from it’s brokenness. So sometimes I doubt that it happens at all.

But when I see my nine-year-old son walk over to pick up a piece of trash on the ground that was not left by him and put it into a trash can, I celebrate. I do the happy dance.

I know. This is a small thing. But to me, it represents so much more. Because transformation is often revealed in small, changed habits.

As his parent, I am glad to see my son keep track of his own trash. To make sure what waste he creates he also takes responsibility for. That on it’s own is a win.

But the fact that he went outside of himself and picked up trash left by someone else and it was no big deal was ENORMOUS.

Not just as his parent, but as a fellow human being. Because he cares enough to do the little things that make this world better.

He wants the world to be a better place, too.

And he knows that starts with him.

And that gives me hope.

water process and patience

Why was I drawn to the water that day? I was on another treasure hunt, looking for something intangible. I hate that place of knowing I need something but not knowing what it is.

I left the muck and mire of my life and went out in search of that unknown thing. I had been feeling a little stuck in my life, trapped underneath the dishes and toilets and laundry and relentlessness of schedules. I needed to catch a breath.

And I saw so many beautiful things that day. I captured them in my camera lens so I could bring them home with me. And all of it helped, but the water seemed to haunt me a little more than anything else.

Pure and clear, the water was quite a contrast to my muddled and murky heart that day. I was filled with both my own humanity and that of others, covered in confusion. I wanted to be cleaned off.

I longed for the peaceful sound the water made swirling into itself to leave a few drops of serene on me. I wanted the beautiful white noise of the water to drown out the sounds of my world.

And I wanted the water to smooth out my rough edges, much like I saw it had done to parts of the steps it was pouring down. Water has this amazing capacity to wear down mountains and round off the sharpest of corners. Water can take a large and cutting boulder and reduce it to a smooth river rock.

The thing is, that all takes time. It is not instant and often does not feel like it is happening at all. I believe we call such transformational journeys process. And sometimes that process of being cleaned off and soul-soothed requires more of my patience than I want it to.