Choosing How to See It

Heart Leaf Before

View out my square window

Turning off the water, I glanced up to the square window above the sink and just stopped to take a longer look in the morning almost light. I had been thinking about Frank and how I missed him. My eyes traced the patterns and edges of the tangled masses of greens and darks and lights. There on the slope behind my house grew the various leaves and twigs and occasional mosses and lichens that were the ubiquitous layer of untended tropical undergrowth. I had planted the red leaved plant months ago to introduce another color into the mix, but mostly it was Nature’s spontaneous medley of graceful grasses and lacy ferns that dominated the view. I liked it. In contrast to the front side of the house where the placement of each plant was carefully considered, this was a refuge of pure Natural whimsy. I especially liked the graceful branch that stood bare against the lively background.

Heart Leaf AfterJust as I was turning to reach for a towel, my eyes caught a movement and I spotted the dry leaf that was falling into my window framed view. It was carried on a whispered breeze and softly lighted on the fork in the bare branch. I held my breath. Surely it couldn’t stay in such a precarious position. But it did. Somehow, this fragile dry leaf found its way to a delicate pause on the exposed branch. It stopped moving. Quickly I got my camera from the other room, expecting that it would not be there when I returned. But it was. Though I could not see any way in which it was balanced or leveraged where it landed, it remained for another hour and begged me to look more closely.

My full attention was now fully engaged upon this lovely leaf precipitously positioned on the bare branch. I thought how lucky I was to have watched it fall from a tree above. Though presumably leaves fall all the time, how often do I actually get to see a single one glide on a  breeze to a temporary resting spot that is not the ground cover? I witnessed my own mind completely focused ‘in the moment’ and I felt wonderfully present. Alive.

Time seemed to stand still as I looked more closely at the leaf shape itself. The graceful curve of the upper end as it curled back upon itself created the suggestion of half a heart shape. And then I could imagine the truncated branch suggesting part of the other half. As soon as I recognized the heart shape there before me, I chose to see it as a silent message from Frank on the other side.

Heart Leaf Cropped_edited-1

half a heart shape

I wondered how many times have I not noticed? This world now is filled with distractions that continually take our attention away from the moment we are in. The television, Facebook, wifi, phones, worries about friends and family, concern about the latest assault – whether it is upon people, nature, the environment, animals, the planet…. We are drenched in distracting events and the ever present threat of the next catastrophe. It never ends.

I have heard often that we can choose to be happy – but that doesn’t seem to work for me. My brain seems to get all wrapped up in ‘what is happy?’ and refuses to ‘pretend’. As a visual person, it appears that my mind prefers to find meaning in something I see. It just seems to works better for me.

I believe that sometimes there are very subtle messages right close by that can only be received when we stay still long enough to allow our eyes and our hearts and minds to discover them. When I took the time to pause and look closely, I found that there was something more in what I saw. I got to choose how to see what was there.

This morning I saw a heart from Frank.

Thank you, dear Frank.

  1. This is beautiful Jan. I have experienced these moments as well. And they are so full of beauty that I often wonder why I don’t make time for them more often. And how lovely that you got a valentine from Frank. Sending a hug.

  2. Thank you, Gloria for your comment. I also ask myself why I don’t specifically set time aside for this… Deeply looking into nature is my meditation. 🙂

  3. Oh Jan: this is just beautiful! I took time this morning to hit the ‘link’ to your website from Facebook. After all our banter about negative space, here’s the real message: love from Frank in a half heart shape. I love that you share these moments with us. Thank you. You are teaching me to see negative space. Now maybe I’ll see more. <3

  4. Jan, I can so connect to this experience of yours! It has been nearly 9 years now since my husband died, but there have been so many little blessings, moments that could not have been appreciated had I not taken time to be still, especially in the first several years when it seemed everything reminded me of him. I love that you can express your feelings and thoughts so beautifully. They are like paintings from your heart and soul.

  5. Dear Jan,
    a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
    We are all given these wonderful opportunities, we just have to be open to receiving them and most importantly acknowledging them. I am blessed to enjoy them almost daily.
    Marsha Tandy
    Fancy Gap VA

  6. Such a beautiful moment Jan! Thank you for sharing. It’s true that when we are quiet, the soft voices of those who have gone before us can be heard. I love that Frank sent you a heart shape – their messages are often literal as in Hart/hearts joined. This is similar to my story. A year after my partner died I was standing in front of a cabinet he built me & before I thought about it, my hand reached out & lifted up the silverware tray. To this day I don’t how that part happened. It was not conscious but I acted without thinking. Underneath was a heart cut out of a paper bag with a carved wooden arrow through it, the heart asking, “What more than a pair of drawers?” I felt a jolt in my heart & realized it had been sitting there for years, patiently waiting for me to discover it. And that I never would have had someone/something not spoken to my hand in a quiet moment to lift that tray. There was no conscious reason to do so. I am so happy that Frank has found a way to communicate with you & that you were open to it that day. Never doubt that it was his message to you. Wishes for many more love messages from beyond! Chris Jonientz/Seattle, Your Forever Student (will see you in 2016)

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