There is an excitable yet subtle transition that takes place as the school bells ring for the last time until fall. Students rejoicing that the last day of school has finally arrived, and regardless of the age, not giving any thought to what lays in wait before them.
The young students look forward to summer camp, family vacations, hanging out with friends, reading books, or whatever might relax them. High school and college students head off to jobs to pay their expenses, as they now venture out into their visions of freedom from structure.
Living near to our town’s park, community center and local schools, I am very aware of the transition from “school’s in session” to the freedom of summer. The frequency of young people walking about the neighborhood, the splashing of kids learning to swim, family picnics happening as the young children play in the playground are signs of simplicity for families to enjoy.
As I look across the park, from my decks view, I smile at the picturesque scene of activities that could be seen in a Norman Rockwell painting. I capture the innocence of life as a spectator from a distance. The squeals of little ones running, playing and sliding on the swings, families gathering for picnics and small games of baseball, bring back many memories of a time when our own children were young and carefree.
Norman Rockwell once said: “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it.”
I understand completely where Norman Rockwell was coming from. We live in a world of chaos, where danger and pain exist, but underneath all the battle scars and emotional wounds, there is a yearning within each of us, that desires the simplicity of life. Where love and laughter exist without fear.
Taking the time to look outside the restraints of life’s clutter and chaos, allows one to step back and appreciate the simplicity of life. A smile on a child’s face, the delight of a child when their challenge becomes their success, the tear on a dad’s face as he gives his daughter away in marriage, the pull of ones heart strings at the sight of a child being born, the warm embrace of parents and grandparents as we take time out of our busy schedules to visit are the reactions in life that fill our hearts with what we yearn for most.
Sometimes it is easiest to see and experience such peace when we are not exhausted from an all night battle of tending to the cries of a young infant, the financial strain of losing a job, or the pains of our heart when those we love are passing on to eternity. Yet, it is that compassionate love for others, that allows us to love beyond our imagination.
As I look across the fields, reflecting on life and what it has to offer, I can find within me the joy of a child’s laughter, the competitive spirit one derives from a game, the warmth of an embrace and the understanding of wisdom that is shared from our older generation.
I hope others take time to find the sunshine within the rain filled clouds, find life within the flowers that surround us, and embracing it with others.