Updated: Apr 4
“I’m okay with people calling me crazy. They see me gathering sticks and leaves and branches and rocks, sometimes talking to them. But they don’t really know me, Emily. They don’t know my life, why I collect things they might walk right by. So, actually, the crazier they think I am, the more stuff I intend to collect. Because with each simple thing I gather, I think of the beauty in it, the good in it.” – Grandma from Sticks and Stones
In Sticks and Stones, Grandma is definitely not like most people. In fact, she is different enough to be nicknamed Crazy Carol. Grandma collects sticks, leaves, rocks, flower petals, and seems to have a story or message behind each one she finds. When others see her doing this, and seemingly talking to the things she finds, they think she must be crazy. But she is correct when she says they don’t really know her, and she is actually smart, not crazy, to see the good in the things that others might walk on by, especially when they’re caught up in the turmoil of this world.
Grandma’s strength and positive attitude does not stem from a life with no problems or worries. Who would be worry free with her situation, one in which her only daughter is arrested and she is left with the care of her only granddaughter, a teenage girl who is even more traumatized by her mother’s mistakes, and wants nothing to do with Grandma’s stories and odd collections. Grandma could be sad, anxious, bitter, stressed. But instead, she looks at things through a filter of God’s love and God’s promises to be with her in all situations, and the fact that she is reminded of these qualities in even the small and seemingly insignificant things like leaves, sticks, stones, is a reminder to us all that we can find the positive in situations that seem to have none.
We are all in a difficult situation right now, and some are feeling it harder than others. I think of doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, delivery people, truck drivers, those who have lost their jobs, those with loved ones who are sick, or worse, those who have lost loved ones. There is so much to be scared of right now, and so much to be down about. It’s easy to fall into loneliness, sadness, and negativity when most of the time you’re trapped in your own house, your own world.
So I believe I have a choice. I can stay in that place of fear or sadness, by collecting those thoughts and preserving them in the little mason jars of my mind, or I can collect the good things that I am seeing and cling to the glimmers of hope that will come when all this is over - and it will be over eventually.
Yesterday I sent a text to my second oldest son who lives hours away. Distance from those you love is never easy, but it’s especially difficult in times like this. So, one thing to definitely be thankful for right now is the technology that bridges the space between us. The text I sent was a simple “Happy Sunday, sending love” text with a fun GIF of a dog looking up at the sky where shooting stars formed the shape of a heart.
He responded with a “Love you, Mom. Just grilling dogs in the sprinklers, looking for rainbows.”
That quote caught my attention. I actually thought it was from some song I didn’t know or something. But when I asked, he told me he made it up. No, it’s not Robert Frost or a famous song writer, but I love it anyway, and I think it’s for more than simply the reason that my child said it. I think it’s because it is a quote of hopefulness, a quote that shows the determination to seek out something beautiful in the mundane, the same thing Grandma did in Sticks and Stones, and exactly what I think we all need more of right now.
So, while Grandma in my book is collecting leaves and twigs and stones, and my son is gathering rainbows in sprinklers, I am going to join them.
I’m going to find the beauty in the boring, the magic in the mundane.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
That’s the verse I will focus on, the one I will seek to live out as I choose to gather the good.
So, here are a few of the things I’m gathering:
· The warmth of the sun when I sit outside on my patio, so appreciated now after having to spend more time indoors.
· Technology, allowing us to Facetime with our oldest son and soon to be daughter-in-law, bringing church into our home, connecting me with friends and family, providing positive messages that people share on social media - a welcomed reprieve from negative news.
· The song of birds flitting outside my window, soaring through the sky, hopping from branch to branch on our large mimosa tree.
· Books, and time to read.
· Time to study God’s word.
· Time to write that second novel.
· Lemons on my lemon tree, growing abundantly behind a cross wind chime gifted to me by a former student.
· Creative cooking with ingredients we have on hand.
· More meals together with my husband and two children currently doing their college classes at home online.
· Positive news, seeing people do good things for each other, in spite of all the difficulties, living out Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
· Fun Family and Childhood Photos and Memories
So, what are you gathering?
Make a list, and send it my way. With your permission, I will share your gatherings in a future post. I believe the more good we share with each other and fill the space of our heart with, the less room there is for the negative.
Praying you see some glimmer in a dull pebble or a rainbow in the sprinklers today.