This morning, I was feeling quiet and lazy. All three kids and I crawled back into bed after breakfast, taking with us various books and one small cat. The older two moved on after finishing their reading, but Youngest stayed and snuggled with me as she studied the ceiling.
“Were the people who made this ceiling artists?” she asked after awhile.
“Hmmm, not that I know of,” I replied.
“I think they were, because they made lots of pictures up there.” I looked at what she was seeing…sweeps and swirls of plaster, randomly spread across all the ceilings of the house…evidence, I’ve always thought, of some re-arrangement of the old farmhouse’s rooms decades ago. Generally, textured ceilings are born to cover up some evidence of walls moved, flaws or scars from the past.
“I can see so many pictures!” Youngest said. As we lay and looked up, she pointed out a unicorn with a waterfall tail, a knight catching the water in a cup. A creature half-eagle, half-wolf. A dragon breathing out frost. A bird, its wings spread in flight. A frog with a grin. The profile of a person, riding on a horse.
I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t tell if she was seeing the pictures in the shadows of the valleys or in the white lines of the peaks, if she was pointing to this shape or that shape. But it reminded me of lying on my back as a child, the lush green grass a fragrant carpet beneath me, the sky open above me like great blue canvas covered with ever-changing cloud scenes. I could have spent hours doing that, and probably did!
How long since I’ve done that? Spent time just letting thoughts drift like clouds, just appreciating and wondering at the possibilities before me? Nowadays, I guess I’d just consider that wasting time. How many times have I stopped some creative process of wonder and delight in my children, under the banner of efficiency?
Surely it’s important to stay on task and to get things done, and to keep order and discipline in your mind. But I’m glad I was reminded today of the benefits of cloud-watching.
I think I’ll go get the calender, and mark a random day in June…”Go the the park, and watch the clouds with the kids.” Appreciate the mind’s ability to imagine, wonder, and delight in things normally taken for granted.