We throw around a lot of superlatives. It’s not just great, it’s wonderful. Not just pretty but beautiful. How often does whatever we are describing really fit those words?
We don’t have to look too far in Arkansas to find some really pretty scenery. Every evening we can look to the West and see a remarkable display of colors. If there are hills in the distance, the colors seem magnified as the sun makes its slow and careful descent. But, sometimes, something really special just knocks us back and takes our breath away.
One of these unexpected moments happened to me during the Great Ice Storm of early 2000. That year, we lived in Bryant under a lot of gorgeous, tall pine trees. The ice had fallen for several hours, knocking out power, and quite a few loose limbs. Everyone in the neighborhood was beyond thinking the scenery looked pretty, as we contemplated the cleanup efforts that would be necessary to get things back to normal. But, after a night of playing cards by kerosene lantern-light, and sleeping under piles of quilts, I stepped outside to see the morning sun reflecting off thousands of frozen branches above my head. It was like some sort of fairy-land. Light flickered in every direction, sparkling brilliantly. It was absolutely, drop-dead Beautiful.
Recently, I’ve seen pictures of two of my friends who were more than just happy to see a new baby. One had waited for the right husband, then waited again to be a mother. Now that her daughter is here, every photo of the two of them seems to glow. Another friend is a grandma for the first time. After experiencing the loss of a grandson before he really got a chance at life, she now has a tiny, precious grand-daughter. The pictures of these two ladies holding their infants betray the fact that they know the Grace of God is the chief reason for their happiness. The label for those photos: Grateful.
Babies provide us with such delight. They have no qualms about laughing when something is funny. Even at things that older people would label impolite or inappropriate. Their laughter is infectious, and the more we laugh, the more they laugh. Joyful, pure and simple.
After all, it’s really about the emotions that we feel in moments like these. A series of well-crafted commercials on television play directly to our emotions, as a weepy voice sings about the arms of angels, and poor mistreated animals stare up at us with sorrowful eyes. Literally, Pitiful. I don’t know if it is coincidence, but two of my children have adopted puppies from their local shelter since those commercials began airing.
I usually have a problem with watching a television reporter interview a family member immediately after a tragedy. I feel that this invades a very private, emotion-filled moment for that person. Recently, though after the tragic fiery crash that killed Indy Champion Dan Wheldon, his friend and fellow driver Dario Franchitti summed things up perfectly. He said something like: “We all know there’s a huge risk every time we get into our car at the beginning of a race. At a moment like this, when we’re asked if it’s all worth it, we have to say No. It’s not worth it at all. But we all know racing is part of us, and we’ll be back out here again.” It was hard to hear those words, but his point of view at that moment gave us a real impression of what all of the drivers were feeling. It was, in a word Insightful.
Another inspirational story on television came at the end of a newscast. This one depicted a group of American military veterans playing baseball. Nothing unusual about that, until you noticed that one of the teams was made up of men who had lost at least one limb in the service of their country. These warriors were navigating very well, thank-you, both with and without the aid of prostheses. For all who played against them or watched them, the experience was Powerful.
As we approach the holiday set aside for appreciating what we have, let’s look for these moments that are completely packed with something special. We may have to step back, take a deep breath, but they’re all around us. Enjoy these times, and be Thankful.
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