Isn’t the word delight delightful? Just try saying the word delight without smiling. Oh I know, there are all these quotes about delighting in the troubles of enemies, but I suppose even that brings at least an evil, sardonic smile to the lips. It struck me while contemplating the word delight, that it is an underused word in our vocabulary these days. We have happiness, joy, pleasure, even satisfaction, but where is our delight? Ross Gay likens delight to butterflies circling and landing on joy. Can following the fluttering wings of delight lead us to the bloom of joy? I wonder.
One of my delights is visiting butterfly houses. I have been to these sanctuaries in different States and they always fill me with delight. I carefully walk through them, avoiding any injury to their inhabitants and try to find a spot to just sit and gaze into the lush greenery searching for the fragile insects. They are amazingly varied in size and coloring. Some of the tiny ones can easily elude my attention. Spotting them becomes a delightful reward for my patience. They land around me, sometimes on me, their touch almost imperceptible. I do not touch their enticing wings, knowing the damage I can do, I simply allow them to light where they will as I sit quietly. I cannot explain it, but I always feel renewed after communing with the butterflies.
If delight is truly like the butterflies, then can we create a sanctuary, a garden, that encourages the ephemeral visitations of delight? And will those delights lead us to joy, or was it always intended to be the other way round?
Delight to me is a tricky word. Is delight just another word that expresses joy? Maybe, it’s a softer joy. I often say, tears of joy not tears of delight. Delight does not express deep emotions for me.
A dear friend believes that a surprise is a delight. I have to say that I never thought of it in that way. I have had many surprises that were not very nice. But, I have also had many delightful surprises.
My sister’s delight is a fleeting but happy moment. She told me that having coffee with a loved one is a delight. Can you believe it, I’m a delight! A decadent and delicious dessert is also a delight for her. I definitely agree with her. Who can turn down a sumptuous slice of chocolate cake.
What is a delight to me? Sitting on my swing on a beautiful, breezy day brings a smile to my face. That first sip of a very cold Coca Cola awakens my senses. Reading the first few pages of a book and just knowing that this is going to be a good book jolts my emotions. Yes, these small things are a delight to me.
Let me know what your definition of delight is. Is it a small surprise or a decadent dessert? Is it a fleeting moment or does it stay with you? Is it a little of everything or something different?
The first week of June is National Garden Week. I can remember spring as a child watching my Dad plant tomatoes in our back yard. I didn’ see the fascination at the time but he was so proud of them and we were sent out to pick ripe ones for salads at night. Growing up on Long Island the yards were never much to speak of but every inch was planned whether with flowers or shrubs or food. I never knew my Italian grandparents on my dad’s side but I knew that they were farmers. Coming to America and having their own plot of land to grow vegetables was probably such a delight for them.
Since Bob and I were married we have moved a few times between Georgia and Alabama. Wherever we landed we planted stuff in either the front or back yards depending on the sun. Again, I was not as fascinated with the process as much as Bob and the kids – but over time I have come to feel such joy and celebration when something one of us planted grows.
What gives me utter joy and absolutely delight is the way our now grown children talk to us (mostly Bob) about their yards and gardens and what they are growing. Burying something in the dirt and then watching for new life is so amazing. They talk about what spots get the most sun and what will grow best where and if something is not looking quite right we’ll get a phone call about it.
They have compassion for mother nature and have a plan to keep mother earth safe. They protect the plants and animals and have plans for a better future on this planet. What joy! What delight!
I move through spaces and skim over them with my senses, and I think I’m pretty typical in that. When we are in New York City, the energy and pace of the city sweeps me up and before long, I am racing down the street at the pace of people who live there, staring straight ahead, not seeing faces, and to be honest, not really seeing anything.
So, I have to stop. When I do that on the streets of NYC, I become the obvious tourist, but what a payoff! Look up! The art and architecture on the tops of tall buildings alone is totally wasted unless I stop, look up . . . and breathe. The sights of what human beings have created then often take my breath away. Right there in the space above my head is one of the greatest art shows on earth, and all I have to do is stop and look up.
I do this rush through spaces here at home, too, I’m afraid. Retirement is sort of squashing most of my excuses for doing that. I can actually go outside and not be in a hurry. I can stop. Look around: up, down, side to side, back and forth. I can even squat down and look at the Earth floor that I’ve been walking on as if it owes me the platform. As I do this more and more often, I don’t look so much like a tourist as “that weird neighbor who stands around staring at nothing.”
It’s not nothing. Every single time I stop and squat, the sights of what the Universe has created here on Mother Earth takes my breath away. Fast moving me sees weeds. Stopping and looking me sees these amazing plants all of which have names. Here are some plant friends I’m getting to know. Please meet Blue Field Madder (aka Sherardia), Parsley Piert (aka Alchemilla), and this moss called Plagiomnium. Aren’t they amazingingly beautiful? Sometimes the best delights are right under our feet.
In April of this year Bob and I went to New York. While we were there we saw a delightful play called, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonanthan Sayer. It has received The Audience Choice Award, The Theater Fans Award, as well as London’s Olivier Award. It is called Broadway’s Funniest Smash hit. And, you can also see it through June 18th at our very own Aurora Theater in downtown Lawrenceville. I’ve seen it in both places and would go see it again if the opportunity comes around.
It is a delight! The first time I saw it with Bob we both started laughing even before it started as the cast does a good bit of interacting with the audience before the lights go out and we didn’t stop until well after we left the theater. People turned around to look at us still laughing after an appropriate time had passed and the cast was on to the next bit.
We thought it was a delightful escape from reality and such a play on theatrical style and story.
I saw it again just recently at the Aurora theater. This time, even knowing what was going to happen, filled with delight, I laughed out loud. Again, I was overtaken by the comic timing, script, and agility of the actors and stage crew.
“How good it is to laugh at life. Sometimes that’s all we have. At the end of the day – to laugh.”
Sometimes delight keeps despair at bay. Laughter replaces sadness. I am grateful to be part of a faith that celebrates life – that recognizes the worth of humanity and delights in all of its aspects, bits, and pieces.
When I taught 3rd grade I used to read to them daily from one of Shel Silverstein’s books. I love his work and have his books in our library. Look at this one from A Light in the Attic (Shel Silverstein)
Put Something In
Draw a crazy picture
Write a nutty poem
Sing a mumble – gumble song
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony – goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before!
I’ve never considered myself a silly person – my parents were not silly. I didn’t see a lot of la – di – da behaviors growing up. But I’m getting better as I age. I am allowing myself to laugh more and feel joy. Even in a hurting world where things happen that bring no joy it is important to find it. Those moments of love and wonder and delight might be the only thing we have at the end of a day.
So, as of today, I’ve done 3 of those things in that poem… working on the rest. How about you?
I’ve long been fascinated with the art of collage. I love using images and various items to create a story or to explore a concept. The process of selecting images and items feels contemplative and playful at the same time. It’s a process that is all consuming — the rest of the world seems to melt away while I’m moving images and items around on the “canvas” – which could really be any surface that attracts my attention. I have a lot of collages in my spaces!
In 2020 my sister, my best friend, and I took part in an ‘Air-BnB Experience’ via Zoom to learn more about the art of collage. The artist, born in Venezuela, lived in Barcelona and her parents live in Roswell, Georgia. My friend was in Florida, my sister in Alaska, and I was in Michigan at my son’s house. Our very gathering felt like a collage!
We were at the height of the pandemic, connecting across great distances, creating art together. I get quite emotional remembering what a life-giving activity this was. Our time together was a balm for the ache of loneliness that had lodged in my soul since the beginning of the pandemic.
The image I created honors the lines of connection and relationship that sustained me then, and sustain me still. My creation from that workshop holds a special place on my altar, reminding me every day that I am not alone, and all the world is one.