It is a valuable practice at night to spend a little while revisiting sanctuaries of your lived day. Each day is a secret story woven around the radiant heart of wonder. We let our days fall away like empty shells and miss all the treasures. — John O’Donohue
My children taught me to open my eyes.
I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and in a big hurry to get to the park. No one to meet, but my internal agenda had overtaken me. After I packed and stuffed my diaper bag, and bundled the kids into their coats and hats, I buckled them into the double stroller and off we went. I was on a mission, so we got to the park –about three blocks away– in record time. We played, we sang, we enjoyed the day. And on the way home, we played a little game we always play. I asked questions about their senses. “What do you feel?” “The wind.” “What do you hear?” “The birds.” And then, almost home, “What do you see?” And my daughter said, pointing up, “Yellow. And this yellow. OH and this yellow. And THAT yellow.” She was bursting, giggling with excitement.
And then I looked up. And I thought, “She’s right.” The leaves on the trees, gorgeous and yellow. Each tree had a different shade — golden, deep mustard and sunflower yellow. With the blue sky in the background and the dark grey-black branches of the trees, it was amazing.
My stomach dropped. In my haste to walk to the park in that early morning, I had neglected to see any of the trees, let alone their beauty and grace — and these trees are just three houses down from my own. It was then that I began to ask myself, “What else haven’t I seen?”
This question sent me on a slow path of discovery, opening my eyes to see the things I hadn’t taken time to look at before.
I began to reframe this question. Not asking, “What have I missed?” That would be a lonesome and fractured task. To always be on the road to something bigger and better that could not be missed, I would miss the things right before my eyes, the quiet and mundane that nurture me right now, in this moment. Those golden trees were begging to be seen. I just had to stop long enough and drop into my body to see it.
Starting to revisit sanctuaries of our lived days invites us to see. It urges us to open our eyes and move through our days not busy and disconnected, but taking deep breaths and entering into situations with a bit more clarity — our eyes fully awake.
On the days that I have a hard time seeing beauty, I fill out a little list of what is around me. I’ve attached a worksheet to download for you to start your journey of seeing.
Though Mary McLeish Arteche works full time as an Art Director, she is also a full-time Mom. She and her husband celebrate the complex simplicity of a one-dog, two-kid and two-chicken household. She spends her free time knitting, painting and being with her family. She’s hosting a new online workbook, Revisiting Sanctuaries, in addition to writing her blog The Yellow Door Paperie.