My son was born in early October. A few weeks before his arrival, I went for an afternoon walk along the canal towpath. All the leaves had fallen, and I noticed a cardinal perched on a branch – like a painter dipped her brush in red oil paint and touched the tip to a sky blue canvas. I made a silent promise to my son that no matter how busy we were in the years ahead, I would always stop to show him a cardinal perched on a branch. In that moment, I was bursting with maternal good intentions. I was determined to be the kind of parent who would teach her child to notice the quiet beauty life offers us.
Fast forward six years, to last Saturday morning. The sun had just risen, and so had my kids. Waiting for the coffee to brew, I gazed out the living room window, at an old tree in my neighbor’s yard. Suddenly I saw my old friend, the cardinal, perched on a branch. I shouted for the kids, “Guys! Come up here! I want to show you something really cool!”
By the time they scrambled upstairs, the cardinal had flown away. A few minutes later, the kids had scattered, and the cardinal returned to its perch. I grabbed my camera, ran into the back yard, focused my lens – and realized I had forgotten to remove the lens cap. I removed it and clicked away. What did I capture? Empty branches. My friend had escaped yet again. I stood waiting for a few minutes, and then my camera battery died. “Okay, okay,” I muttered to no one in particular, “I get the message. I get it!”
Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, life taps you on the shoulder and says, “You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you? I’ll show you a thing or two!” All you can do is chuckle, and admit you have a long way to go.