I came upon a first grader, Ellery, standing by herself in my school garden. She had on little white shoes and a chiffon dress – both of which made her fit right in with the daisies that popped and bobbed around her feet. But it was her giggling – the pure simple delight of it – that slayed me. I decided not to interrupt, but to watch. What in the world did Ellery find to be so funny?
A tall sunflower, as it turns out.
She stood among the daisies, face-to-face with the garden’s reigning sunflower – one that towered at twice her height. And, as the sunflower listed and leaned in the breeze, Ellery giggled and chatted away. I couldn’t hear a word the flower said, but Ellery understood the entire transmission. Whatever the flower wanted to share with her was just right.
Words I wanted to say? Child, you are adorable! But I held back. Speaking would have snapped the spell and I didn’t want to ruin things. I looked to the other side of the garden, saw her teacher beholding the same conversation that I had witnessed. She and I winked and hung back to allow the chat between little person and big flower to conclude of its own accord.
I came home from work and still reminiscing on my little encounter. Then, I took a few moments out front with a Ginkgo tree I planted there a few years ago. A scoop of candy-orange sun still hung in the sky. Earth at my tree’s base shone in rich brown and black.
I took some wood chips and spread them at the base of the tree. I watched leaves tumble in the light. I stepped back to take a breath. In the tree itself, I could see early spring buds starting to come forth. I heard the wind, my neighbor’s dog, a feint wind chime – no threats, no worries, no sharp edges. Did the light or the leaves have something to they wanted me to know?
Simple joy didn’t come in words. It came to me in a warm fullness, a good ache in my bones, and in a keen connection to the coolness of the soil I stood in. My heart, spine, and mind aligned from some rooted place deep underground to a shining angel’s hand well above the crown of my head. If any word came to me, it was a ‘yes’ to right place, right path.
You can’t plan for this kind of match between earth, sky and me. And if I see Ellery tomorrow, she may not remember the day before, her little white shoes among the many daisies, and her delighted soul having an earnest chat with something that grown ups would have told her could not speak.
Would that she would have many more! Let these delights get counted as real and weighty, just like cloudy days and angry storms.
Celebrate the light dancing as well as its darker cousins. It’s not one or the other. Remember, Ellery – and then remind me when I forget – it’s both-and! Always both-and. Always all.