My friend Mary had the eye of an artist, and she appreciated color wherever she found it. She didn’t just notice carefully-planted flowerbeds where the shades were deliberately picked to harmonize, or a shop window where a decorator had consciously paired accessories for maximum impact. She had a gift of seeing the “accidental pairings,” the moments where things of vibrant color just happened to end up side by side. She would see them and she would celebrate them.
Take this bin of erasers at the store. I would have walked right by it, but Mary looked at it and saw beauty. She had her camera with it, so she took a picture.
To me, this photo is a one-frame reminder of Mary’s ability to see. It’s also a testament to how separate items work together to create something beautiful — more beautiful than they’d have been on their own.
I think I’m getting better at Mary’s way of seeing. Where I used to see one lovely and colorful thing in isolation, now I find myself noticing the way that different objects work together to produce something beautiful.
Back in July, for example, Scott and I were enjoying an anniversary dinner out, and I suddenly noticed that my Bellini and the napkin were exactly the same color.
When we were in Cooperstown, New York, this house stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t get over how perfectly the white and green of the hydrangeas and lawn mimicked the trim and shutters.
And just last week, making dinner, I was suddenly struck by how the red of the strawberries highlighted the blue of the blueberries, and vice-versa. Feeling very much like Mary, I stopped dinner preparations and got the camera. I could practically hear her cheering up in heaven. ”You’re seeing it!” she seemed to say. “Isn’t it amazing how these colors work together?” (If she had taken the photo, it would have been of much better quality.)
I think some people are born with this way of seeing the world. Others — like me — have to learn it. We learn it every time our more clear-sighted friends and family stop what they are doing and pull out their camera, or say, “Look at how gorgeous those erasers are, all together like that!” Savoring it is one thing, but sharing it — that, to me, is truly holy.
So maybe that’s a good thing to remember over the next few days. Will I see this week through Mary’s eyes, noticing those moments of sudden, surprising harmony? And will I take time to share the discoveries with my kids so they can see them, too?