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Have you ever taken your shoes off in the grass? The cool blades curling under your feet, tickling the sides of your toes. There’s some kind of freedom in being barefoot, and I have to smile when I see my son’s cute little toes without shoes or socks on. There is some kind of beautiful innocence about it.

It’s not often we have rain-free days here in the northwest, and today was no different. Before the rain started today, we went out and walked around the neighborhood. It seems like every few steps, my son would say, “Look, mom, look…. a tiny little rock… a waterfall… that big pipe… a cute little bird…” The innocence and sense of wonder is intoxicating if I take time to really enjoy it.

I lived in Japan for a year as a teenager. I had a friendship with an Englishman, named Jim, who was in my town to teach English for a couple years. Every so often, we would go to a local jazz-themed coffee shop. A fellow English teacher of Jim’s would come there and join us sometimes. His name was Fujita Sensei. One time during our visit, Jim mentioned how he loved beautiful roses. Fujita Sensei turned to him and said, “Ah, you must have time to enjoy them.” Jim was annoyed by this and said, “No, I just think they’re beautiful. Why would I need time to enjoy them? I just look and them and notice I like them.” It didn’t occur to me until years later what Fujita Sensei may have meant.

It’s easy to notice beauty in nature, in the face of another person or in a painting. It’s quite another to have an appreciation for the beauty of something. In passing, noticing the beauty of a flower is easy, but a breeder of roses has quite a different appreciation for a new breed of rose they have worked so hard to cultivate. A mother has a greater appreciation for the kindness of a child they have nurtured to be a loving person. And an artist has an appreciation for Monet’s work that an average ten year old has not yet developed.

As I understand it, “having time” to appreciate beauty in something is recognizing where it comes from, and what it took to accomplish, grow or simply exist. It’s that stopping to smell the roses before you miss them kind of thing. Kind of like appreciating cool green grass between your toes in the spring when it’s finally warm enough to take off your shoes…


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