It probably looks eccentric, maybe even strange to someone walking by, this frail old man hunched before a hedge of dandelions. Behind him, a sea of tranquil green dotted with petite yellow buds. Before him, a charming grey house cracked with the most beautiful bit of aging. There in that chair he has sat for at least 8 hours a day for the last seven. People walking their dogs in routine schedule will watch him slowly rotate the brim of his ball cap from left to right, hiding his face from the sun’s ever glorious gaze…..and regrettably forgetting his arms completely, leaving them red and leathery by the close of day. He doesn’t seem to care.
He will smile back and say hello if you’re kind enough to do so first. He can’t see you, for his back is to you, so he waits for you to nudge him with a salutation. He isn’t being rude, he’s just thinking how to make this one little flower so real that you feel you could touch it, and then feel and experience the inspiration of this little place we call Honeychurch. Because of that, he may not know you’re there until you say, “hello” first.
If you were sitting on his porch just listening to him while he sat in his chair (a TV tray at his side filled with all kinds of different colored threads), he’d tell you what he has learned sitting there by the grace of fortune.
His long boney fingers pull the frailest of needles through a canvas. Entranced, his eyes follow along, his body sings with humming soft breaths, his mind understanding every precise thing he wanted to know.
His voice is smoky, weathered, kind.
“I could spend my day in pursuit of all the money in the world. I’m smart enough to know how to do that…. But, I would prefer, if you don’t mind, that this be the world that I pursue….I’d prefer to live in this life of deliberate joy. All of this time I spend out here? Surrounding myself with all of this natural beauty? This is absolute (!) contemplation. I’m not praying to God….I’m focused on being in the presence of God. And in those moment, regardless of how long or how many hours it has been, nothing in the world is poisonous. Nothing is fatal. Nothing is painful. EVERYTHING is beautiful.”
He takes random pictures of bugs on his chair because the bug is a beautiful color; takes pictures of his embroidery hoop getting caught in his military belt buckle and laughing at this gorgeous masculine-feminine match finally happen on the lap of Mr. Gregory Patrick. (Goodness, I blush).
He takes quickly seen, corner of the eye pops of purple dandelions….informed to him by a reader of his that it was actually, indeed, the wild purple tassel flower….Oh, that thing was too pretty for him to let go without it having it’s own snapshot! He had to capture it! First on his camera, then on a canvas, inspired by the vivid brightness of life around him.
As the sun begins to set he’ll hold up what he’s been working on. The sun pulls just the right light through the golden rain tree, casting shadow off his raised stems, dandelions and rosettes.
And he’ll whisper, just after wishing Honeychurch a good night, “What a beautiful day….”
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