My son, Mareto, loves light and color. He is especially excited by rainbows. One day, I was switching out a CD, and he noticed the way the underside caught the light and reflected a rainbow. He begged to hold it and spent the next couple of hours carrying it through the house with his little index finger poked through the center hole. He twisted and turned it at different angles, tilting his head to look at the rainbow. Mareto finds light and color in the ordinary.
Another day we were walking through the woods when Mareto stopped abruptly and looked up to exclaim, “Look! The tree rainbow!” I followed his gaze toward a tree that was bent and partially fallen. Its skinny trunk grew up out of the dirt and then arched over a pathway, where it ended by resting on a tree several feet away. It was tall, bending high above us, and creating a shape in the sky just like a rainbow. And I never would have noticed it.
But Mareto did. Mareto sees beauty in places I wouldn’t expect to find it, such as the broken trunk of a tree.
We kept walking, and not too many minutes passed before Mareto stooped to pick up a small, dirty, gray rock. He turned it over in the palm of his hand a few times before holding it up to show me. “The rock is a heart!” he exclaimed with bright, wide eyes, barely holding in his awe and excitement. Sure enough, this small rock looked as if it had been crudely cut into the shape of a heart. I wouldn’t have noticed that either.
Mareto’s eyes seem trained to find the beauty in everything. I remember a time when mine were, too, but somewhere along the way, I lost it.
I remember trotting through the woods with my sister as a child, looking for acorns to collect, then popping their tops off and pretending they were tiny bowls for tiny animals. I remember inspecting each rock, hoping to discover an old arrowhead. I remember lying in the grass to braid clover flowers together for necklaces and bracelets. I remember finding shapes in the clouds and dancing in the rain.
When did I lose my vision?
Life got hard and big and scary. The world no longer felt or looked beautiful; instead it seemed broken and messy and ugly. I stopped finding beauty in everything because I was too focused on the brokenness. Terrible things happen and we can’t always control them, so a narrative of fear writes itself in our hearts—scribbling out the story of broken beauty, but beauty nonetheless.
God tells us that when we love him, “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). That doesn’t mean everything that happens to us will be good; it means that God is bigger than our suffering and the world’s suffering. It means that God is actually powerful enough to make something lovely in spite of and out of the messiest and most awful parts of life.
But do we see it? Do we look for the beauty hiding around the next corner?
Do we actually see the arc of a rainbow or just the broken trunk of a tree? Do we believe the sun is beaming above the dark clouds, or do we fixate on the storm? Do we see that every single broken thing in life is really just redemption waiting to happen?
I don’t always see the beauty. I admit that it’s not always my first inclination. I spent so many years seeing the broken in the world that it takes a conscious effort to look for the good in the bad. But Mareto is helping me—taking my hand and showing me all the beautiful things in this world—and I’m watching him live it out.
Lauren Casper is the author of It’s Okay About It: Lessons from a Remarkable Five-Year-Old about Living Life Wide Open and founder of the internationally known blog laurencasper.com, where she shares her thoughts on life, parenting, and faith. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo! News, and several other publications. Lauren and her husband, John, have two beautiful children brought home from Ethiopia in 2011 and 2012. They make their home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.