Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Smiling Yellow Daffodils

He ducked his head as he came through the door, weathered and wrinkled cheeks flush with embarrassment. Neither my co-worker nor I said a word as he slipped past the front desk and down the hallway. He carried a used plastic water bottle with two wilted daffodils tucked inside, their bright faces drooping in thirst.

While we stood looking at each other and listening for his movements, we heard him at the water fountain in the mouth of the hallway, imagined him stooping low down to fill the empty bottle from its mouth. We busied ourselves when he finished his task and passed right back by us and out the door, carrying his sweet gift to some extraordinarily lucky recipient.

The door closed behind him, and we expelled our breath with simultaneous sighs and exaggerated “awws.”

“How sweet,” my friend said, grinning.

And it was.

When I returned to my office, I admired the bouquet of roses and lilies and carnations sitting on my own desk. I admired the pretty red ribbon with tiny white hearts tied around its base. I admired the lovely pink vase showing off the bursting-to-full arrangement. And then I thought about that little old man with the black boggin hiding a few wisps of gray hair, head bowed humbly, and yellow daffodils smiling out from a crushed water bottle in his hand… and I was ashamed.

I take things for granted, y’all. We all do. Every single day. I take my wonderful, loving husband for granted. I take the fact that we make enough money for him to buy me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for granted. I’m not a terribly materialistic person, but I’m constantly lamenting the fact that our incomes aren’t better, that our jobs don’t pay more. I do this even though we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our bellies.

I love the simple things. I hug them to my heart always and count my many blessings daily. But I still take things for granted. I still want more.

That old gentleman with his black boggin and thirsty daffodils wasn’t taking anything for granted; he wasn’t, at that moment, wanting anything more than some water for the flowers that he would give his Valentine.

For a long time after he left, I thought about him and his flowers. I imagined him presenting them to his love. I imagined her face lighting up and her heart filling as if she’d been given the fullest bouquet ever. And I imagined how we could all learn a lesson from those humble daffodils, spreading cheer and love in the simplest and most profound way possible.

Hopping this morning with:

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