Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bigger Picture Moments: Pretty

Welcome to Bigger Picture Moments, a place where we step back and take in the SIMPLE things in life. SIMPLE and sweet moments in the mundane or in the hectic that take our breath away. A picture maybe? A poem? A gesture of kindness or things we unwrap during the week. We encourage you to take this opportunity to take a moment and view the Bigger Picture. Whatever that means to you. WHATEVER way you want to outlet that in your blog.

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Pretty
It’s early morning, and my husband comes into our room to wake me.

“Good morning, beautiful,” he says.

Just like almost every morning, he smiles at me and runs his hand through my thick, wild hair, eyes full of love. I muster a smile and mumble something about tired and morning breath and shower.

At this time of day, I feel anything but beautiful. The mirror confirms my suspicions as I catch a glimpse of my profile on my way to shower and get dressed for the day.

I search for pretty in a beautification process that involves cleansing, grooming, straightening and make-uping … and only then do I feel like I could live up to his praise.

****

My eyes scan the landscape of my living room. Toys, socks, discarded clothes, shoes, furniture and two grumpy boys fill the space in between the walls.

Searching for something pretty on which my eyes can feast, something lovely to capture with my camera, I head over to the window, hoping to find inspiration among the barren tree branches and white-coated grass. But I've seen it all before through my lens, and the products of a recent snowfall have turned various gradations of gray ... gray to match the sour moods that were born when my children were birthed from their beds this morning, only to grow into fully foul dispositions.

Something pretty, I crave. Anything pretty, I search.

I remember a colorful necklace I bought the night before, unwrap it, slip it over my head and adjust the brown cord so that it falls into a brilliant cascade of colors down my shirt. And I feel so pretty.



****

It’s totally unlike anything I’d normally buy {that is, if I ever buy any jewelry at all}.

Mostly, it’s different because it boasts extreme colors – oranges, yellows, brilliant blues – a drastic difference from my normal cool, coal-toned or silver accessories.
But I’m tired of the grays because right now that’s all that paints the sky almost daily and the whites that cover the ground and the black that coats the white all seem to be swirling into each other, creating more shades of gray than I’d think was possible if I weren’t seeing it with my own eyes.

I want color and vibrancy, I tell my sister.

She confirms that it’s everything on my list of requirements except, she asks, would I ever wear it?

I rub the deep lemony yellow and turquoise blue beads and instantly feel the calm I’ve embraced while standing before so many of turquoise blue seas.

And I resolve I will.

****

Bright beads atop of deep plum purple dance beneath my eyes during the day and follow my body’s movements, gracefully swooping left or right, up or down as I maneuver through the day.

I smile when I feel it dance against my chest, and I embrace its unique beauty, though so different from what I normally wear, as E holds the beads in his hands while nursing after spilling tears all over the floor for the tenth time this afternoon.

And I realize I love it more and more because of the way it turns and twists and jumps and dances right along with me … it reminds me of how awesome my body is to be able to meet the needs and wants and desires of my family and my life.

****

My husband is sharing his autobiography with our group this evening. I’m excited to hear his words and to escape our house, leaving our cranky children in the capable hands of my sister.

As John shares his life story, he comes to a major turning point in his life.

He was in an introductory class detailing the expectations of his English course, a requirement before studying abroad in Egypt during the January interim of his senior year in college.

He describes meeting for the first time a girl with the lip ring and tongue stud who had bright, fiery red streaks running through her dark hair – the girl who the professor said would make the trip interesting and colorful.

The girl with the lip ring, he says, seemed kind of scatterbrained and flaky – she gave him the wrong phone number while they were trying to coordinate transportation to the airport so he’d had to track her down. She arrived late for the limo departure and nearly forgot all of her money in her boyfriend’s truck. She also announced, before getting in the airport-bound limo that she really needed a drink. In front of everyone’s parents, nonetheless.

He then shares the part in his story where the girl with the lip ring strayed off the beaten path and marveled about the great big God, his great big God, who created the stars twinkling above their heads as they sat at the edge of the Red Sea.

And then she bounded into the roped off catacombs with an Egyptian guard carrying a semi automatic machine gun – typical of her adventurous, impulsive spirit. He couldn’t just let her go alone with a strange gun-toting man. So he followed her straight down the darkened, ancient staircase, straight into an epiphany.

They explored the bones – the forearms of ancient ancestors, strong bones that once built empires, now lying dusty in woven baskets -- in the dark shadows of the catacombs. And they climbed into the actual tombs as they snuck peaks into an interesting past where ancient Egypt and Rome collided in a spectacular cacophony of old and new. The girl with the lip ring, who had a head scarf covering her now-dulled red locks, to his right and the man with the machine gun to his left.

As a child, he’d dreamed that he was venturing through a cave with a woman dressed in a traditional Middle Eastern headscarf; she had the dark features of a Mediterranean woman, and he knew, he just knew that the woman was his wife. When he woke, he had searched the maps in his dad’s Bible trying to figure out where on Earth he’d been in his very vivid, very real dream.

There, in the sun-streaked Alexandria catacombs, the girl with the lip ring and the tongue stud and the faded-red hair dressed in a green headscarf, he says, became more than just a colorful character in one chapter of his story.

The girl with the lip ring and the tongue stud and faded-red hair, a far cry from the girls he’d dated before, became, in his mind, his future wife.

He shares that the girl with the lip ring asked, while they were barreling across the ocean in an airliner on their way home from Egypt, if she was just pretty distraction from his real life. She wondered, he says, if she was something he would really wear – all colorful and bright, she was so different from his normal attractions.

But just nine short months later, he exchanged vows with the girl with the lip ring, with me.

As my husband finishes his story, I touch the bright colored beads on my new necklace and I see, in a way I haven’t ever seen before, that perhaps beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder; maybe it’s also in the beholder’s heart.

Maybe beauty, our very perception of what is so lovely, isn’t just seen … maybe it’s a feeling stored away inside our hearts after briefly touching, sweeping our fingers across the small moments that stir our souls.

****

It’s another early morning in our home.

The door creeks as my husband slips into our bedroom to wake me.

“Good morning, beautiful,” he says, the same kind of love dancing in his eyes as when our pupils locked while standing face-to-face in a sun-soaked ray shooting in through the cracks of the Alexandria catacomb.

And despite my hair being a mess and eye liner likely smudged across my temples, I believe him.

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