Two Septembers ago my family spent a few weeks in South Dakota. It wasn’t a vacation; it was a working trip. My husband tucked us away in the hills and commuted every morning into Rapid City. The kids and I did schoolwork and read and whiled away the remains of the day until he came back home. What we did not do was spend much time outdoors. At least, we did not spend much time outdoors without him, thanks to the overzealously detailed Beware of the Mountain Lion literature prominently displayed in the home we rented.
Two pages of tiny-typed description featured six photographs of poses a mountain lion might assume, the meaning of each one, and the appropriate human response. Loosely paraphrased, it spiraled down this way:
- Number 1: Look! The feral kitty is curious about you.
- Number 3: That cat is interested in you, maybe too interested. Reign in your children and keep ahold of them.
- Number 5: (And please note that this is a direct quote.) “If you have a lethal weapon at your disposal, take careful aim, and use it now.”
- Number 6. The lion has decided that you will be lunch.
They had me at number 5.
Occasionally I sprung the family from the indoors by dropping my husband off at work and driving the rest of us to places we could look around without fear of being eaten. The Geology Museum. Tourist towns in the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore. The Badlands.
Along the road which wound through the Badlands I saw a sign I’d never seen before: Viewpoint Ahead. It was an announcement and an invitation. Attention! There’s something to see here. All you have to do is stop, get out of your car, walk over, and look.
Such a sign seems unnecessary in such a place, a place preserved for its beauty, a beauty at once unique and harsh and lonely. At least, it’s unique until it becomes the passing landscape for a few miles. Until we get used to it. Until it all begins to look the same and we get a little bored. Before long we stop paying attention to what we see.
It’s a little like the landscape of our lives.
Our todays resemble our yesterdays and our tomorrows. We get used to it, a little bored even. It doesn’t take long for us to stop paying attention. The sights and sounds, the people and problems that create the texture of life cease to be something to see.
In his commentary on Matthew 6, Matthew Henry wrote There is a great deal of good to be learned from what we see every day, if we would but consider it.
Lilies. Birds. Heavens. The whole of creation. The good is there, in the little things and the big ones. We just have to watch for it.
There is great good that comes from paying attention. It’s how we see. It’s how we consider. It’s how we learn. Or learn again.
Oh, that we would open our eyes.
Sharing this week at Small Wonders.