“… to the person that is joined to all living things there is hope…” Ecclesiastes 9:4
This seems to be a story I write again and again—being caught by wonder in the middle of an ordinary day. This time I have my friend Darcy to thank. You have to be paying attention or you will pass on by living instead of joining alongside.
Darcy walks with me every Sunday in her neighbourhood which is very different than my own. Her’s has an expansive ocean view from on high. In my neighbourhood the walk to the water is easy going and the water isn’t visible until you are there. Getting from Darcy’s view to the water involves a long steep descent that is almost as hard on my shins as the climb back up. We haven’t been down that literal road in a long while.
Darcy and I stick to the trails through the woods and the other cut-throughs in her neighbourhood. Some of those paths are steep too, but they are quick bridges between the streets that snake up the hill to offer a spacious view. On a clear day, we are smitten with snowy Mount Baker in Washington, 120 km across the Haro Strait. Yet on this day, I am smitten by a miniature view of our path that turns away from the sea.
Right before the deep descent down Sea Ridge Drive, we take a wide paved shortcut, accessible only to walkers and bikers. We walk between the houses and the path brings Darcy and me back to Amblewood Drive, a switch-back away from where we began. It is a flat walkway, bordered on either side by a fence and hedges that keep those yards private. Part of the fence is hidden, too, by the dense foliage. You see, I hardly notice that fence; it is a nondescript structure to walk by, a worn-out wooden fence, not a place to discover wonder or encounter mystery.
So, I have Darcy to thank for what happened. Darcy stays close to the ground and while her pace is much more lively than my own, she regularly pauses to explore a “spot” that interests her. In other words, Darcy is open to the wonder of a seemingly regular patch of grass. Darcy’s instinct caused me to notice a spot I could have easily missed, especially if I’d been walking with Liz or Stacy or any number of friends whose conversations would distract me.
Right above the patch of earth that captured Darcy’s attention was that old fence. What caught my attention was a laid-flat two-by-four, the top rail between a double set of pickets. Another world drew me out of the complacency of my control of the world I was carrying along with me.
The miracle here is not only what I saw but that I was able to pause and look at something ordinary to see something extra ordinary. I am already awed by mosses that cast a green shadow on our driveway right now and clothe the bark of the tree stump in our backyard and the lichen that drips from our little apple trees. So, I wasn’t surprised to see the lush green resting on the top rail of that old fence.
What caught me was the wonder of lives—the green mosses, white lichen, and the tiny flowers on the backdrop of weathered wood. The first picture I took on January 8th seemed like a micro, barefoot-worthy patch of green; but, what about those tiny red blooms?
As with any good story, context expands the truth. On another Sunday, I took a picture of that fence from another angle. I wanted to record the ordinariness of the path, the worn-out place that couldn’t possibly announce something newsworthy.
Wonder is a place in the real world along the paths we always travel. A destination we must discover. My experience of worry and fear, the what if’s, is only one view of my world. There is another reality that boasts the intricacies of life that offer possibilities beyond my everyday view. Darcy helped me get there; that’s a friend indeed.