The four of us went on a hike on a desert mountain today. It was dusty and dirty and there were signs that warned of bears as we trekked toward what was said to be Paul’s tomb. Who is Paul, I wondered? Without knowing, we worked toward him anyhow. The trek turned out to be more miles than the Canadian kilometers we were promised. On the way back, our walk along the water’s edge slowed to a snail’s pace. Bella, my daughter was wearing ridiculously vain hot pink sandals. My husband wondered what I was thinking allowing such a fashion statement on a hike. This is to assume my daughter’s wardrobe points to my common sense. If that were so, she would have been wearing a jean skirt and a sequin tank with some cute dangly earrings and maybe even a flower headband in her hair!
In the last mile or so after we had listened to some whining and attempted to console it with piggy back rides and promises of a yummy lunch, I slowed my pace and held her hand. We walked down a hill and round a bend and it was then that I saw the most beautiful peachy pink, roses. I invited Bella to “Stop and smell the roses.” They were too high for her nostrils to play. I took note of the green branch and where my fingers could grasp and avoid the thick thorns. I pulled one down that had bloomed three roses, one of which lay at the end, big and boisterous. Bella with her golden tan skin leaned in and allowed the air to enter her nose taking in it’s notes. As she did, I asked her if she knew what this phrase “Stop and smell the roses” meant? She thought it meant to stop and smell the roses, literally. The rest of our walk, we held hands, walked slowly and together talked about what this phrase really means and then thought of stops we could and should engage in life. Here, I share some of those with you.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Stop and buy an ice cream cone from the ice cream truck.
Stop and play pretend.
Stop and think about the lyrics you hymn.
Stop and hold their hand.
Stop and say sorry for what you know you haven’t.
Stop and put bright red lipstick on.
Stop, put your camera down, and live a moment you’d otherwise try and capture. Then, you have actually captured it.
Stop and embroidery again.
Stop and write a thank you card, in your best cursive.
Stop and dance in your living room, playing that song over and over again.
Stop and stand in the rain allowing it to wash you clean. Use your umbrella another day.
Stop and ask the waitress her name. Order her story more than your chicken kiev. It will taste better.
Stop and feel the place your breath draws from.
Stop and notice the color of their eyes. The differences in shades. The yellow hue next to the sable round. The white in contrast to the brown and how they meet. The way their eyelashes trace lines that fashion what stare at you.
Stop and light a candle to remember them.
Stop and grieve. Write down everything you lost when you lost.
Stop and feel with your entire body the power of the train as it passes you by.
Stop and study the willow branches sway and weep.
Stop and belly laugh.
Stop and smell the nave of their neck. Inhale and promise your memory, this smell you won’t forget.
Stop and smell the tomatoes, looking for the one that actually smells like tomato. That one is yours to take home.
Stop and invite the neighbor over that you have told yourself you would for far too many years. Your good intentions keep letting you down and they don’t have to keep doing so.
Stop and make your own chicken noodle soup when one you love is sick. Feel deeply good about the healing properties of what you took part in creating.
Stop and buy the bike basket you have always wanted. Then go to the farmers market and fill it with a gorgeous bouquet of sweet peas and purple and orange carrots and a card handmade by the 7 year old who sketched her dog playing with a dragon.
Stop and send the card to the first person who comes to mind that is lonely.
Stop and snip the sweet peas and place them in your most beautiful jar and put them above your kitchen sink. They are just for you.
Stop and smell the roses. They grow in grace and beauty even if you see them not. They smell delicious and enticing even if you smell them not. To stop and allow all else to wait for you to engage them, engages you.
Stop and go on a hike with the kids you think will complain the entire time. They just might surprise you.
And as my daughter says, stop and just stop. Sit on a bench and behold what colors are before you, the petals that fall, the waves that come to say hello, the skin that brushes yours. Life is found there and so is the Divine, found when you stop and smell the roses.