Artists are always on the lookout for the moment of epiphany, that moment when the ordinary reveals something new or something more. When it happens, it always touches something deep within them and for which they are surprised and enriched and grateful. It always comes as a surprise. It evokes wonder, awe and a sense of mystery. Somehow, after it, life is not quite the same. It can happen in the world of nature and often in the ordinary events of daily life. From small beginnings can come a great harvest. As Mary Oliver says:
After all one does not expect much from a “tender sprig” or a “seed” and even less from a “mustard seed” and yet these have the potential within them for immense surprise; to become “a splendid cedar” on which “birds of every kind will nest”. The mustard seed can grow to become the “greatest of all shrubs”. These are metaphors for the presence of God in nature and in the bits and pieces of ordinary, everyday life. All we need to do is “just pay attention”.
Last year I was in hospital recovering from Covid-19. I spent the final week in a ward with three elderly men, also recovering from the virus. One was very ill. As his family could not visit, a nurse took time out and set up ‘Facetime’ so that the man’s wife could talk to him, even though he was unable to respond. The nurse knelt by the bed and held the iPad for him so that his wife could tell him how much she loved him, how he was the best husband she could wish for and how thankful she was for their over fifty years together. It was a simple act of kindness that had the presence of God wrapped in it. When the nurse closed the iPad, she was almost in tears and it was a moment that made a deep impression on me. “Love one another”, Jesus said, “as I have loved you.”
There are so many moments in our lives like this. All we need to do is “pay attention”.