There is something different about the light this time of year. As the day nears its close—so much earlier, as if it is weary after the long year—the sun settles in a muddled gold behind the woods, the black silhouettes of the pines stark and certain.
The sunset is mellow and poignant, full of all that the year as seen, aging and wise. None of the sweet pinks and pastels of a spring evening or the sweeping, impressive vistas of a summer day turning to night. This time is quieter, contemplative.
I walk with my daughter, push the stroller endlessly up and down the block, through the neighborhood, counting the minutes before Daddy comes home and my body can start to sigh with relief. But something stops me. I start to concentrate on the small things my daughter notices, the small, simple things that this tiny child, close to the ground and fascinated with the miniature, readily and easily considers. Walking with my daughter I start to see through her eyes, the little things that delight her, that begin to delight me.
Ferns nestled in the dark recesses of a ditch.
Minuscule golden flowers—weeds, really—that she longs to pick.
The startling blue of a jay’s feather discovered in the grass.
Simple things that would not even register for most people. She approaches them with so much gratitude, ecstatic with each new amazing microcosm of God’s natural world. She sees so much beauty in the ordinary.
We stop and talk with our neighbor, a widow and grandmother who can remember the early days, when I was struggling to heal and pushing my baby, new and fragile, down the street, careful of each bump, laboring to walk. She tells us that the storm of a few days ago brought down a giant pine in her backyard. Because of the direction of the wind and the angle of its lean, the pine miraculously fell on its side across the width of the yard. Had it crashed forward, it would have taken out the whole house. Her son offered to call a tree service to have it removed, but she said she wanted it to stay for a while. She liked to sit out on the porch and stare at it. In it she saw God’s mercy and care, sparing her and saving her, and she was certain her husband in heaven had had a hand in it all. That fallen pine told her that her husband was watching over her still.
On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for the small, simple things in my life. The blessings from God that are quiet and small but perhaps more important than I can ever know. I strive to have eyes of gratitude that delight in God’s creation as my daughter does. And like my neighbor, I try my best to see God’s mercy and love in things that might usually bring fear and misgivings. Each day I get to choose. Do I see Him present all around me?