When I was eight years old, my family left our home in Utah for a new home in the unfamiliar desert of Arizona. The move was exciting as a young girl. I was open to change – ready to make new friends.
But it was hot there. Really hot. And the beautiful mountains and canyons that I had grown to love no longer surrounded us. And the grass was prickly and itchy instead of soft on my bare feet. And there were no fall leaves. Or spring flowers. Or snow.
While I grew to love the people in Arizona, I could not say the same thing for the desert itself. When I graduated from high school and went back to Utah for college, I could not get enough of the soft grass (I spent hours just sitting in it while studying), the flowers, the change of seasons, the mountains, the canyons, and the snow.
I married my husband, Greg, while we were both attending BYU. After spending five years in Utah, we packed up our young family and headed to the Midwest for another six years so that he could attend graduate school. While there were no mountains there, I had never seen so many flowers and trees. We planted a flower patch every year and never even had to water it, thanks to the rain. The grass stayed green and beautiful with little effort. Our vegetable garden flourished. Everything was beautiful.
While we loved the beauty of nature that surrounded us there, we knew that we eventually wanted to head back West to be closer to our families. As we discussed where we wanted to settle after we finished school, the one thing that we agreed upon was that Arizona was out of the question, even though both of us had roots there. We did not love the desert, with its lack of seasons and landscape of thorns, dirt, and rocks, especially after having lived in the beautiful and green Midwest. Arizona was just too ugly in comparison.
You can imagine our surprise when memories of the desert home of our youth began to reach out and beckon us to come back. We put up a fight, but eventually gave in, loaded our stuff in a truck, and arrived at our new Arizona home in the 117° July heat.
What were we thinking?
The landscape was just as I remembered it, complete with itchy grass, thorny trees, cacti, dirt, and rocks. I missed the flowers, trees, and lush green growth of the Midwest. Not only that, but I also felt like I was melting every time I went outside. I was, however, happy to be closer to our extended family and friends whom we had not seen for years, and was determined to make the best of things.
That is when I noticed the sky.
I didn’t remember ever having seen such a big and beautiful sky before. It seemed to stretch on forever. During the day, it was nearly always a gorgeous shade of blue, and the sun was always shining like a joyful friend. Sunshine made me happy, even though it created heat.
And the sunsets. Oh, the sunsets. They were breathtaking, sometimes making me feel like God painted the sky simply to show me that there was beauty in the desert, after all. I just had to know where to look.
And thus it is with life.
It is not always about flowers, trees, and beautiful landscapes. Sometimes it is about thorns, rocks, and dirt. Some periods are drab and uninspiring. Yet, even in the midst of the lackluster days and challenging times, there is always beauty to be found, if you look up.
I invite you to begin observing the small and simple things today by paying attention to what is going on right outside your window. Is there anything beautiful in the natural world right where you are that you either haven’t noticed before or have yet to fully appreciate? Take time today to look up and outside of your normal line of sight. You might be surprised by how many things you have missed.
This is part of a 31 day series about small and simple things. See the rest of the series here.