“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes…” Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Generally speaking, I am not a poetry person whatsoever. Never have been.
But when I ran across these lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning earlier this year, they stopped me in my tracks. They encompass how I feel I live my life at my very best — how I strive to live it always.
You know that Kurt Vonnegut quote that women on Pinterest love so much about noticing and acknowledging when you’re really happy? Not my problem! Never has been. No one has ever had to remind me to notice good. I am naturally, easily delighted. I get pre-nostalgic for moments that I am still in, knowing that I will miss them when they’re over. I am excited by the smallest gifts and I cry over things I find beautiful pretty much always.
I had always thought of this as a personality quirk and not much else, but in the past year I realized that it can be worship. I never considered it before; but these few lines of poetry summed it up so well. The world may be broken, but it’s full of so many little things that are how they were meant to be. When I notice those and get excited about them, I think that’s pleasing to God. And I like to think my enthusiasm is fun for him — that he enjoys one of his kids loving what he made them as much as he does, or as much as he wanted them to.
I’ve got a list of goals for the year like anyone else. I want to remain (gainfully) self-employed, which will involve actually filing for my own business and then, you know, making sure I hustle up enough work. Writing two more independent stories like Don’t Stop & Paddle Hard is at the top of the list, and one is already in the works! I’d like to try and get some photos published, and I always have a few more personal disciplines to work on as well. In many ways, I love New Year’s because it feels like for one day, everyone in the world thinks as birds-eye-view and idealistic as I do — dreaming big for themselves.
But honestly, if I do nothing else this year but continue delighting in the small gifts I’m given with the biggest gratitude I can muster, it will be enough.
I want to always be one of the ones who sees, always ripping off my shoes because the stretch of road I pulled over on to photograph or the climbing gym or the coffee shop where I write or my friends’ back porch or my own little home is a gift and holy ground.
Happy New Year to you all. I’ll be the one laughing and crying along the way, probably.