I once was blind, but now I see

I remember one seminar where Sis. Morgan was either running late for seminar or was busy with something else (most likely tweaking a PowerPoint post), so she had Kaitlin go outside with a trash bag and collect a bunch of the leaves that had fallen on the ground outside and bring them into seminar. Each one of us had to pull one out of the bag and spend at least 15 minutes describing that one little leaf. At first we were all probably thinking "You're kidding me, right? It's a leaf. The end. What else is there to say?" But as we all looked closer and really looked and saw what was in front of us, words began to flow. I remember detailing the little scar on the front, the glossy front and rough back, the way the veins moved across the body of the leaf, all stemming from one large vein that ran down the middle. I remember trying to find the words to describe the formation of little brown specks and the shape of the leaf itself down to its tiny teethlike edges. Then, when we were all done, we each read some of what we had written. It was amazing to see that each leaf was very unique even if at first glance they all seemed so alike.

The sad part about that day is that that was one of the few times I had really taken the time to stop and look at the minute details while in college. I remember that leaf more than I do some people's faces or even the hallways or the buildings around me.

The happy part is that now I have a child. And that child helps me see more than I have seen in a long time. I finally see all of the flourescent lighting hanging above me in Wal-Mart; I see the trail of little black ants across the sidewalk; I see the water dripping out of a drain pipe after a storm; I see the joy in my child's face as she feels the flour between her fingers and hands as she plays in the bowl of it that will be used to make our bread; And finally, I see the leaves in our yard and wonder at the beauty of all the fall colors, and I remember that day in seminar when my little Hazel picks up a leaf and stares at everything that it took me years to see--the spots, the veins, the scars. That is when I feel a little closer to heaven and so thankful for a little child who can help me see.


Sky said...

Such a cute babe, and the essay is great. A joy to read--especially from someone who wrote around her subject for two whole semesters before she could get out a couple of true sentences. Truly a great read. Thanks. (By the way, that activity was planned, but I didn't have time to go get the leaves, and I still remember sending K. out to bring in 20+, and she picked up every leaf on the library lawn. Ha.) Keep writing. You are ever so good at it. Plus we miss you.

Emily Goodsell said...

I love this. It makes me think about so many things. I remember the leaf seminar, too. Last year when I didn't know what to teach as my students were walking in the classroom door, the leaf seminar came to mind. Since I unfortunately live in a place where leaves don't exist, I had to improvise. I started handing out paperclips and staplers and construction paper to the students. And even though leaves would have been better, the classroom supplies worked, and seminar got me through one more day.

Sky said...

Em, great idea. At different times, I've used rocks, pencils, sheets of toilet paper, and raisins work especially well. Whatever gets them to open their eyes--they're always surprised to look at something twice, three times, etc. and see new things. It's Scudder's "Take this Fish and Look at It," only fish are too expensive and smelly to bring into class. I try to do this exercise myself every other day at least because it's critical as writers that we "see," and we lose that ability fast.

Leanna said...

Sis. Morgan, I thought I saw you coming out of Joann's the other day, but it obviously wasn't you. Then I had to have a good laugh at myself because of all stores for you to be shopping at, I think you'd die before ever going in Joann's. haha Loved the image of it, though. Miss you!

Thanks for your comments. It feels good to write. (Well, blood on paper, but it's still good. You know what I mean.)