The breeze off the shores at St Simons Island was decadent as we savored the sun and the shells. The boys romped in the water with their dad while my daughter took a break from the waves to search for treasure from the sea. The shells glistened as we browsed the diverse collection the tide had left behind. My daughter was thrilled with her finds, adding shell after sandy shell to her bucket. The bucket was filling up quickly as she indiscriminately snatched each shell she laid eyes on. Broken shells, chunks of shells clumped together, itty-bitty shells and anything in-between were selected for her own personal collection. I tried to educate her on the finer points of gathering shells, “Baby girl, look for seashells that aren’t broken; gather the ones that are pretty colors or the ones that are your very favorites!” I was honestly a bit frustrated with this shell gathering excursion because she was just grabbing everything and not searching for the prettiest. The bucket was soon filled to the brim and still she continued picking up each shell fragment she saw, quickly, as if she was racing the tide. “Babe, you are going to run out of room if you pick up every piece of shell you see! Look for the prettiest ones.” My wise girl replied, “But Mommy, they are all pretty!”
Oh. Well. I hadn’t thought about that. I guess if there are all pretty then it would make sense as to why she would try to gather each and every one! She saw worth where I didn’t; she acknowledged beauty where I saw none. My eyes lifted to take in a panoramic view of my surroundings. I saw my daughter, the sand, the water, people, the seagulls, the rest of my family playing in the water and I saw myself as part of this picture. How does she see all of this? I think she sees it differently than I do. I took in the view and named it all beautiful. Pretty. Valuable. Worthy. There were a good number of people in my view – all of them strangers, some looked similar to me, some very different. Some of them I could be friends with easily because we view life similarly and some people would be more of a challenge because their values differ from mine. Not one person on that beach shares the exact same views I do, thinks the same way I do, or looks exactly like me and that’s a good thing and its a beautiful thing.
Young children see beauty everywhere; they treasure rocks, feathers, pieces of toys, boxes, caterpillars, and on and on. They hug indiscriminately, they feel deeply, they appreciate so much of their world: the cross-walk guard, the roly-poly bug, their cat, the butterfly flitting around a flower, their teachers, playmates and neighbors. They have open hearts and eyes that see worth without subtracting for socio-economic status, disability, faith, values, skin color, or sexual orientation. They just love without doing comparisons. What a gift. What teachers our children are! How do we relearn this? How do we quit doing comparison math and just love? How do we retrain our hearts and minds to see the beauty that is in each and every person? I don’t know all the answers but I think its something all of us must figure out for ourselves. Our children are counting on us to get this right.
What would our world look like if we recognized the innate beauty that resides in every human being and then treated them accordingly? It would be a whole new world. What would it look like in your sphere of influence to see others and treat others as worthy beginning TODAY? Take a look out your window, or peer into the cubicles on your way through the office, notice the people on the subway, at the park and in your neighborhood. What do you see? What would it look like for you to see your neighbor as valuable? Does it mean sharing from your garden? Sitting down for coffee? Helping with yard work? Sharing a meal together? What about the homeless man that you pass every day? Is he beautiful? The faltering school down the street filled with kids starving for education, stability, and love. What happens when you see those kids and their families as worthy of attention, effort and resources? Choose to look at your world with a worthy filter slipped on over your eyes and heart. You might be surprised at what you see. Don’t be surprised if you have to enlarge your heart to hold all the beautiful you see because you will see worthy at every turn. And your world, our world, will be better for it.