Sunday, October 10, 2010


"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon washing my windows. It's a chore that I remember my mother doing while I was growing up. Back then - it was a much bigger deal. We had storm windows and screen windows. In the Spring, you took the storm windows down and put the screen windows up for the summer. In the Fall, you reversed the process.

Putting up the storm windows in the Fall was a little bit tricky. You had to time things properly which isn't as easy as it sounds. Rapid City, the town in which I grew up in western South Dakota is a bit of an anomaly in the northern midwest. If you look at the map you would assume it simply gets cold around mid-October and stays that way until April. But Rapid City is in the foothills of the Black Hills. The weather patterns there are not what they are in Minneapolis, where I now live. It was not uncommon to have 70 and 80 degree temps on occasion in October and November and I remember many a Thanksgiving day (and even the occasional Christmas) with the windows wide open.

In addition to the timing, it was simply a lot of work. The windows were big and heavy. It took two people to put them up safely. Before putting them up, you cleaned the outside of the inside windows and the inside of the outside windows. Then the window went up and you cleaned the outside of the outside window. The project took all day. Thankfully, my mother was smart enough to label the windows on the inside of the storms - back bedroom, east window, top and bottom. Without that help we might never have finished.

Today the job is much easier. My windows unlatch and fold down so I can clean them from the inside of the house. The exception is the front bow window and the window on the north side of the house which cranks out. They require the step ladder outside. Otherwise, I don't even need a step stool. A little Windex, a few paper towels, and I'm good to go.

There's something very satisfying about having clean windows. The house seems bathed in light. Everything outside looks brighter and more vibrant. The colors on the trees are vivid and it is easy to forget that there's a piece of glass between you and them. You can clearly see that honeysuckle that's still managing to bloom on the trellis on the back deck. It looks crisp and clean. The beauty becomes clearer.

Of course, all that light brings other things into clearer focus. You can see the cobwebs you missed the last time you ran the vacuum. You can see the fine layer of dust sitting on the surface of that lampshade. You can see the couple of spots you missed when you painted the ceiling last summer. You can see the bumps and imperfections in the walls, the smudge on the corner of the coffee table. The flaws become clearer.

Our vision is a gift, certainly, and it can also be our enemy. In all things, we get to choose what we will focus our attention on. I can spend my time looking through the filter of my newly washed windows and see the flaws in my home. Or, I can choose to ignore those flaws, and focus on the beauty that is before me. When I go to work, I can choose to focus on the difficulties - the negatives. Or, I can choose to spend my time seeing the good in others and the positive events that are happening around me. When I experience relationship with others, I can focus on their flaws and shortcomings. Or, I can choose to see the good in them - the special and unique being they have been created to be.

Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho once said "You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle." In this, he challenges us to use our vision - to choose what we see, and to choose wisely.

Today's view is of (and borrowed from) Hendersyde Farm -

1 comment:

  1. "Leighton, I just cleaned that picture window, please don't put your hands on it!" I blurt out, frustrated with my 7-year-old.

    I turn away and think of Nolan, now 22. He has not visited this house but twice since he was 16. I would give anything to see his hand prints on my window.