The 20 Second Reveal
Years ago, I had a painter friend named Wendy. Her drawings though similar in feel, always allowed the viewer to see something with fresh, new eyes. The sunlight reflected on an expansive pond, the blues and purples of January snow we often consider white yet not, the rimmed hazy sky at twilight.
Wendy knew how to soak up awe. How to mark it with pastel in her hand, and step back and just marvel at all she saw in front of her, big and small.
I knew this about her, but I didn’t completely get what a gift she had for the holy ordinary until one day, she invited the family over to watch something unfold. That’s all she told us. Come see something unfold. But you have to show up at 6:15 because last night it happened at 6:21. OK. On the way over we tried to speculate as to what this could be. A warren of baby rabbits, a possum considering it’s evening spoils, fireflies that descended on her porch? What?
When we got there, she took us to the back yard and had us sit around this little plant. It was long and spindly, each stem arched elegantly skyward with firmly closed twisted buds at their ends. They looked like flowers that weren’t ready to bloom or had already closed up after a day of sunlight and warmth. We sat there for 4 minutes or so and I remember asking her a question and looking at her and she said, “I’ll tell you later, watch the flower.”
So we did. Then it happened, as if we had pushed an ON button. One at a time, each precious little bud, unfurled. One at a time, unwrapping themselves to the evening air, from beginning to end in 20 seconds. There went one, and then another and then another. In a minute and half, the show was over, and the plant had welcomed in it’s yellow flat petals to the emerging stars. “Wow!!” we all said. What is this thing we asked Wendy. She said, “It’s called a mountain dandelion and it does this little wondrous dance to life, every evening at dusk. When I moved in,” Wendy continued, I didn’t know what it was, and was about to pull it from the garden as during the day it didn’t do anything. But then one night, after mowing the lawn, I was putting back the lawn mower, and it caught my eye, and it did just that, it unfurled for the evening, in one fell swoop!!” “Wow!!” we said again.
Over the years I have come to believe that noticing awe, and sharing awe in small wonders and in large, is like giving someone grace. A gift unearned, unexpected, undeserved. And yet, a gift that wakes us up, that offers us a touch of the surprises and wonders of life. And in truth it is such an easy thing to do for one another. Look around, and I promise you you’ll find just such an adventure to share with another. The world is waiting for you to capture it for a few seconds of its glory. And there I guarantee, will be some fleeting though real moments of joy!