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Everybody Stand Back

17 June 2013

Several week ago I decided to start intentionally finding beauty in the world again. Not magazine-cover-beauty – the kind of beauty that you can’t quite put your finger on even a week later, but that leaves a faint residue under your nails and in your hair.

And I’ve been trying.

Beauty copy

But sometimes I feel like I’m too busy for beauty. Too busy to find it. Too busy to create it. I’m developing philosophies for house-keeping based on the difficult task of keeping my kitchen table mostly cleared off – who on earth has time for beauty?

Then – you know how it goes – the busyness becomes overwhelming and I go from wishing I had time for beauty, to wondering if it’s really there at all. Because in survival mode, everything is just good enough and then you’re on to the next thing. There’s no stopping to smell the roses (because you didn’t cover the rose bush last winter, so the roses aren’t blooming).

Sometimes I look around – iPhone camera at the ready – but all I see is clutter and long To Do lists and dirty floors and the fern dying of dehydration in the corner. And I shrug, and slip the phone back into the pocket of my jeans, and get busy.

Which is about where I was yesterday afternoon, when the tree bloomed.


This tree on the corner of our yard is so big, I almost never see it. If someone came by and removed it in the middle of the night (somehow), it would probably take me weeks to notice it missing. 

Husband estimates it at about 45-feet, and it’s only about two-thirds of the size it was before a storm threw the top of it into the street a few months after we moved in. I stood at the end of the neighbor’s driveway to get it all in my iPhone screen. It’s huge.

I know it’s there because I see the base of it all the time, and because I’m used to it being there, but I only actually look at it for a week or two every year.

When it blooms

Because when it blooms, it blankets the yard in fragrance. And to stop and shade your eyes while you arc backwards and crane your neck to follow the trail of white flowers all the way up to the top, is an inspiring feat. It takes a moment. Sometimes, if you really want to take it all in, it takes walking across the street to the neighbor’s yard. There’s no glancing at this tree if you really mean to see it.

I do it every spring, and every spring I think, “It’s weird that I never see that tree there.”

And yesterday, as I stood squinting up at it, I suddenly realized that here was inestimable beauty, standing over me day and night, that I just always forget to see. Here was a tower of countless tiny flowers – beautiful as a whole, and beautiful in their detail – waiting patiently, day after day, as I hurry past.


Here was beauty – big enough and grand enough for half of the neighborhood to see, that awes and inspires new friends who happen to visit during its bloom – that I hardly ever enjoy because I don’t take the time to step back and see it.

There is (usually) beauty in the details. There is beauty – wonderful, forgettable, fleeting beauty – that gets overlooked beneath my feet every day, and I still mean to find it, appreciate it, tag it on Instagram …

But sometimes, especially after a long winter and a hurried spring of cleaning and planting – resetting and restarting, the details can become demanding and I need to remember that there is beauty in the big picture too.

If I’ll step back and crane my neck just right to see it.

(IG-ers – Join me? Use those tags – #findingbeautytoforget and #bigpicturebeauty – so I can collect your reminders, and maybe put together some collage posts. So when one of us forgets, or gets too busy, we can help each other.)


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Leslie Nuss permalink
    19 July 2013 12:24 AM

    Lex your writings are beautiful! Here is something to think about though. Your husband and your child are your rose bushes. There are blooming with beauty and are always changing every day. You breathe in their existance..It never stops…:)

    • Lex permalink
      19 July 2013 9:27 AM

      Absolutely! I remember that every spring when this tree blooms – the details and the tasks of life are hard and demanding right now, but when I look at the big picture (my husband, my son, my family, house, church, etc.) it’s beautiful. 🙂

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