There was a day back in December when I got out of the apartment for a run (in sunshine, hallelujah!) and as I was running along the walking path toward campus, I saw a woman with a basket. She was off the path a ways, standing at the edge of a field that was filled with yellow flowers when we moved here in July, but now is brown. I had just registered that the field had died and never looked at it again, really. But she was standing there with a basket, picking what I now saw were thistles. Still brown and dead, but she had noticed them for some reason, and her attention turned mine. I kept running but on my way back, when I passed that spot again, I decided to take a closer look. They were definitely dead. Pointy thistles on the end of dry, pointy stalks. But they were pretty, in a way, and there were small, brittle flowers among them. And I was struck mostly that I had never seen them before in all my times walking/jogging past. So I copied the basket lady and broke off several stalks, walking the rest of the way home.
It was a strange, reflective moment, where I was very aware that I had done something I hadn’t planned to do (step off the path, stop my run, bring home dead flowers) and I was super elated by it. Like, weirdly so. Chris had taken the girls somewhere so I had the apartment to myself for a few minutes, and I spent the time carefully arranging the thistles in a glass. And it was so great. And they were just dead flowers.
I think I’m entering a season of collecting things like this. Not always dead thistles, sometimes a line from a poem, a writing by a saint, or an old photograph from a thrift store. Things or words that set my soul humming. It only now occurs to me that this quiet, small activity fits well with winter. I’ve been turning inward as the days have shortened, the leaves have let go and fallen, and the bitter cold is now setting in. I am watching the sun rise and set each day now, and it has set me to paying attention to more of the little things that fill that time in between.
This quote by Henri Nouwen that I found in this book is something I keep returning to, lately. “My deepest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.” Seeing these things I’m collecting as glimpses – of God, of beauty, of joy – and savoring them. I’m wondering how to be a witness to them. And how being a witness can be my vocation, within my other vocations (wife, mother). It’s all wrapped up in the question I continue to have: What do I do as a stay at home mom? But I think this sort of vocational lens is more helpful to me. It’s not fully formed and I’m still figuring it out, but I know I want to keep catching those glimpses.