Monday, August 23rd

When Jim and I first moved to our new home in West Virginia, our yard was bare and empty. Jim has since created landscape borders and planted bushes; now we only need some colorful flowers or trees to have a beautiful setting. But I am realizing – even as I hate admitting – that I am not a gardener. I love those vibrant greens, cheerful blooms, and shady trees, but I have found that even a few potted plants quickly become “bothersome” and I give them away.

So, I am grateful for the flowering beauty I find on my daily walks, planted by neighbors who are more dedicated to gardening than I am. These neighbors have created colorful flowerbeds for all of us to enjoy. By brightening their one small part of the neighborhood, they also brighten the route for walkers like me. Seeing the variety of bright colors brings such joy to my day!

However, each Friday my route takes me by the trash bins that have been emptied earlier that morning. Often times, stray pieces of trash have been dropped and left behind. I usually take a moment to pick up any loose garbage and toss it back into the bins, doing my small part to keep the trash from being scattered by the wind or squished by passing vehicles. This week, I “notice” that I am also contributing to beauty when I clean up these messes along the way. I may not have a green thumb, but I do have an able body to remedy a problem or ease a burden, to help make the world a bit brighter.

My invitation for this week is a reminder to be attentive to the small ways I might make the world a little better, brighter, and more beautiful. When the world can feel so heavy and I can feel so helpless, God is reminding me to simply do what I can. I sense an invitation to pour as much goodness and brightness as possible into my small part of the world. And I have two small ways of doing so…

How might I brighten my corner by adding beauty? Could I create a poem, send a flower, cook a meal, photograph a scene, walk with joy, offer a smile, reach out with kindness, share a good thought, play peek-a-boo, write a letter, elicit a laugh, lend a book, host a tea party?

How might I brighten my corner by easing burdens? Could I pick up trash, dry a tear, listen to a story, speak up, help out, send a card, carry a load, clean up a trail, donate food, offer assistance, care for a child, write to a prisoner?

Do these invitations call to you? Are you one who loves to add beauty, or are you one who tends to ease burdens? In what ways are you being invited to make your corner of the world a little brighter, a little better? With God’s help, our small but beautiful contributions will brighten our world, one smile at a time.

My prayers for you continue.

Photos by Karen, Hurricane, WV

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