Tumbling in the Sand
It’s one of those wordless children’s books where the pictures tell stories and convey more meaning than a million pages of text. Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith’s Sidewalk Flowers is a story in which a child and her father are walking through a city together running errands and going about the day. The father is busy with the errands: talking on the phone, getting groceries, hailing a taxi. He is not absent. He holds his daughter’s hand, he is seen looking at beautiful things that she points out to him. But he’s a bit distracted and busy. The little girl is not at all in a hurry and wanders along, noticing small wild flowers (some would call weeds) growing in the sidewalk cracks and along the side of the road. She gradually collects them and then gives them away. The description on the back of the book reads, “…whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.”
It’s a beautiful book. And I’m naming my reflections for Lent this year after it because my Lenten disciplines this year are really about opening up the space in my heart and life to notice the sidewalk flowers. I’ve actually felt this whole year needs to be about opening space. I’m not sure what I’m opening space for, but something needs more space in my life. And so, I’ve been working on it a bit. But this Lent continues the clearing as I’ve taken on the discipline of fasting from Facebook for Lent and along with that, I hope, more time in my present moment to notice… to notice moments of beauty, perhaps. Or maybe to notice what needs the space I’m trying to find.
We’ll see how it goes. If today is any indication, it’s going to be hard. I know I’ve gone to open Facebook dozens of times today to stop just in time. If this is anything like other things I’ve fasted from, it will get easier and then harder and then easier again. We shall see.
In the meantime, I’ve committed to writing a reflection here every day for Lent. I hope I do better than last time I tried this. I will try to focus on a single sidewalk flower for each day that I can share here. Maybe there will be something there to transform each of us.