Ben and I were in the backyard, manhandling the unwieldy leaves that fall from our two willows, when he saw it.
“Come over here, daddy. Look!” Ben’s voice was urgent, his eyes flashing.
And there it was, in the cold November air. A flowering rose, bright and beautiful, right on the other side of the fence. It was hidden behind a small pine sapling, and easy to miss. Unless you have Ben’s eyes, which are always looking for the beautiful and the hidden.
My adult brain immediately spun into action. How can a rose be blooming when we are collecting leaves in the late fall? Why would anyone plant it there, so obviously tucked away and out of view? Is it fake? Who would put a fake flower in the ground?
Ben wasn’t thinking any of those things as he knelt down at this altar on the other side of the fence.
What does it mean to find unexpected beauty just outside of your boundary lines? What would it be like to look for it?
To expect it?
You would have to exchange your adult eyes – which have grown blind – for the eyes of a child, which can see wonder and beauty, especially when it’s not expected.
There are roses blooming everywhere. Behind the checkout counter. In your bed, stirring next to you as you wake up. On the corner downtown, holding a sign and not making eye contact. In the anxious gait of your supervisor as she sprints down the hall. In the kindergarten teacher who whispers to my four year old that he is an artist. Even in the drug addict, strung out and strung along.
And especially in the mirror. Can you see it? This is maybe the hardest place to find it, but there it is: blooming and beautiful and alive.
This Sunday, we begin the season of advent, when we long for bright roses in dark places. When we look for the hidden and unexpected light to dawn. When we open our blind eyes and wait for what we know is there, to appear.
Here’s the secret: It’s seeing the hidden roses that make them bloom. Of that I am utterly convinced.
So open your eyes and see them. They are right in front of you, and everywhere.