On Noticing…


On my way to a Presbytery meeting in Austin this week, I knew I’d be in the car for a few hours, so I burned a couple of the podcasts that were on my “to listen to” list to CD to bring with me. One of the podcasts I heard was this episode of On Being by poet laureate of New York, Marie Howe. One of the things she talks about in this episode is the inability we have, at times, to notice the everyday. Either we miss it completely (because we are too busy or preoccupied or multi-tasking) or we want to overanalyze it. We don’t notice the simple details of life, she argues. It’s true.

Then, yesterday, with that podcast still echoing in my ears, something remarkable happened: the ice cream truck passed by. I was so moved by it, I wrote this little letter to Clayton and Sam. I thought I’d share it here, in the hopes that it inspires some of you to take note of that which is ordinary, realizing that it might be, in fact, extraordinary.

Dear Clayton and Sam –
You are almost two and almost three. I can’t believe it. You’ve both had a lot of “firsts” already.. They seem to be flying past! Your first steps, your first words, your first teeth, your first trips to the ER, your first birthdays. I remember a lot of your firsts and we have a lot of pictures of them, but today we had a first that was so precious to me, I wanted to write it down so I could remember it forever. Today we had our first ice cream from the ice cream truck! We’ve heard it drive by before with the music, but we’ve never flagged it down and bought the ice cream. I was waiting until just the right day. Today was the day! We heard the music and I opened the door to see if the ice cream truck was really going to drive by our house, and there it was! I took both of you outside, one on each hand and held you tightly around your wrists so you wouldn’t get too far ahead. Daddy came out too and we each carried one of you across the street to the ice cream truck. I held you, Clayton, and Daddy held you, Sam. We got each of you an ice cream cone with cookies and creme. The best part was when we sat down on the front porch to eat them. You both were talking about the ice cream truck and listening to the music as it was driving around the neighborhood still. It was such a surprise to you that we bought the ice cream from the truck that plays music! You also let mama take lots of bites from your cones. In fact, you thought it was as fun to give me bites as it was to eat the ice cream yourself. Every time I took a bite, you would open your little mouths too and giggle and laugh. You got the ice cream all over your faces and your hands and it dribbled down your shirts.

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