Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Surprised by Joy

I am, of course, not the first to use this phrase. Wordsworth used it as the title of a poem in which he describes being struck by something wonderful and turning to share it with his daughter, who unfortunately, had died long before. The rest of the poem is a lament on her loss.

C.S. Lewis, too, used it as a title. It was for his autobiography, primarily about his search for the moment at which longing has been satisfied. Curiously enough, after he published the manuscript he met and married a woman named Joy, and his friends claimed that he had, indeed, been surprised by Joy.

I have to borrow their words for what happened to me today on two separate occasions. I had been working in the vegetable garden, harvesting the last of my first potato sowing. As is my habit, I loaded them into a container that had drainage holes and headed back to the house to rinse them with the hose. I placed the colander on the back porch, and when I turned to reach for the hose, my eyes alighted on the rusty red daylilies blooming in a small bed at the family room chimney and then on to the Zebra grass and Japanese maple beyond. It may seem strange for people to read this, but I suddenly drew breath and felt like I might cry. The beauty of the scene was overwhelming. I thought about how strange it was, wondered if anyone else would feel the same way or merely ask what was so special about the view. But the feeling did not leave me. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I felt as if I had touched (or had been touched by) the miracle of existence. I felt privileged to have had some hand in the making of such a view.

Maybe it's not so overwhelming to anyone
else, but there it is

Once I had rinsed all of the dirt off of the potatoes, I headed to one of the front flower beds to deadhead. Again, in the midst of this, I was struck by another beautiful moment. A small moth was devouring the nectar provided by a Gaura 'Lindheimerei' flower.

He sat so patiently

As I tried to find the best perspective for the camera, I caught another amazing sight in the viewfinder. A ladybug was scrambling up a nearby shoot. Again, I was surprised by an overwhelming feeling of awe to have been witness to this.

There she is, just to the right of the moth

Some may call me altogether too easily impressed, but this is what happens when you tend a garden. You notice the little things that suggest you're part of something so much bigger and miraculous than you ever imagined.

And in case anyone is wondering, I do, indeed, walk around with my camera thrown across my torso. I never know when I might be surprised by joy.

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