Yesterday, I took a walk in Brookside Gardens, in Maryland. It was a phenomenal treat for the eyes, ears, & nose. Fountains sprayed water and kinetic sculptures danced in the wind. Flowers as dragons and tree trunks as houses.
Every color flower, butterfly and bird was there for the taking.
I observed a mother with 2 very young children, probably 2 and 5. The mother was on her cell phone talking loudly. The younger of the two children ran ahead, she broke from her call to yell at him. The older child lagged behind, itching her legs and complaining about bug bites. This time the mother broke to scream at her for being so full of drama all the time.
Granted, this was a short snapshot, and she did indeed have them out of doors, but, all I could think of is, what lousy memories and connections these two young children will have of this magical setting. I also felt a sense of mourning for the mothers’ missed opportunities with her children.
Today I sat, in my car with my dog for about twenty minutes curbside in Silver Spring, waiting for my daughter. To the left of me was an excavator type vehicle, loudly digging a hole, and pushing pavement. 3 men directed traffic around this roadwork, as cars and trucks maneuvered around. It was loud and chaotic.
On the sidewalk to my right I noticed 3 childcare workers. Two were holding the hands of young toddlers, maybe 13-15 months old. The third woman had a kiddie cart with four more children. The first thing they did, was exclaim that there was a dog in my car, and proceeded to hold up each walking child to observe Wally. The woman with the kiddie cart stopped it and made sure each child had the joy of seeing the little white dog.
Next, they stopped for a full five minutes to watch the street workers. The standing children pumped their legs up and down in excitement. Several pointed when the excavator scooped up debris and then dropped it in a new location. I was struck by this spontaneous moment and the wonder and excitement it provoked. I was also struck by the wisdom and kindness bestowed upon these young children by their caretakers.
Their memories and connections to this loud and noisy street corner were filled with cause and effect, fascination, and tenderness.
How much do these moments shape the soul? How often do we remember to notice? How often do we stop to smell the excavator?