Somewhere along the way, we all stop believing. We start seeing the world in shades of gray. Black and white blur, and we are left with a world of dull shades of gray. We forget the beauty of the flowers and the grass and even the weeds along the path.
Once, when I was a little girl, my grandma and I took a walk through her retirement center. We were walking down the sidewalk, and I was picking what I thought were flowers. They were white and beautiful. As we were going past the condos, an elderly stranger called to me from her porch. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something like, “Girl, those are weeds you’re picking there! Why don’t you go pick some flowers?” I was hurt. The flowers she indicated weren’t near as pretty as my weeds. I always thought weeds were ugly and flowers beautiful. When the woman called my bouquet weeds, I was crushed. I wanted to throw away my weeds because of my embarrassment. But my grandmother wouldn’t let me. She said, “They look pretty, Sarah. Don’t get rid of them. We’ll put them in water when we get back.” As ashamed as I was about my weed bouquet, I kept it for my grandma. I don’t know what Grandma ever did with those weeds. I don’t remember. I’m sure she put them in a glass of water and kept them out until they withered.
What that well-meaning lady missed when she told me to throw away the weeds was that beauty can be found in even the things we are told aren’t valuable. She had spent her life believing that those things growing out of the ground were not worth picking and saving because they fit into the category called weeds. As a child, I saw those same plants as valuable and beautiful because that is what they were. I hadn’t yet created a category called “weeds” that equated all those plants with ugliness or worthlessness. I guess in some ways, I still haven’t. After all, who doesn’t get a little bit of joy from blowing all the fluff off a dandelion when it’s ready to send off its seeds? Or who doesn’t at least smile at the bright sunshiny yellow of a young dandelion? And that’s only one weed! Imagine the beauty in all sorts of weeds, beauty that we just pass over because–well, who likes weeds?
And we do the same thing with more important things than weeds. At some point we stop believing in fairy tales, not because we don’t want them to be true but because we no longer see the royalty around us. Like the people surrounding Don Quixote in Cervantes’ well-known work, we laugh and say to the fairy tale dreamers, “That’s not a dragon! Why, it’s only a dragonfly! And castles? No, our house isn’t a castle. It’s only got one story, and there aren’t any secret passages. Princesses and princes, kings and queens, heroes and damsels in distress–those are the things of our imaginations. They aren’t real.”
But the believers, the truly hopeful ones stand by Don Quixote. They see a princess in the shy girl in math class who doesn’t have many friends. They see a lady of honor in a prostitute. They see a castle in a shanty sitting in the shadows of the city dump. How can they find these things? How can they imagine such beauty in such an ugly world? How can they see black and white and color where the world sees only gray? Love. Love and hope and faith. These childlike people don’t have to see only what’s in front of them. They can see beyond because they have faith that God has a greater plan, that He has placed value in each of us. They are certain that their hopes of a castle and of a lady of honor will come true, if only someone will take the time to care for the shanty and love the prostitute. They hope for more than what they see, they believe that with God’s help the impossible can become reality, and they pour their love into the people around them. These are the believers, the dreamers, the ones who no longer see gray. They see the black, the white, and the brilliant colors in between. All this because they dared to hope, to believe, to love.
May we hope for our wildest imaginings. May we believe that God will give us “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” to His glory and our good. May we love God and others with such reckless abandon that everyone can see that we are His people because of our love.
Dios te bendiga.