Searching for beauty in scraps of paper

Scraps of paper litter our house: on the table, scattered on the floor, strewn about the couch. If there’s an open space, you’ll probably find cut up paper. Both my kids love to draw and write. Charlotte practices writing the names of her friends. Other times she’s making rainbows, ice cream cones, and hearts for friends and family. She cuts, colors, writes. Repeat.

Isaac too has started drawing pictures of boats, cars, and his family. One picture had a head with arms and legs sticking out (that would be Charlotte) and drew a thought bubble coming out of her head with a stick figure of himself. “That’s Charlotte thinking of me while she’s at school,” he tells us matter of factly.

I’m not going to lie, the paper makes a mess. Before every meal there’s paper to pile (or recycle) and anytime we want to sit on the couch, we’re moving paper to clear a space. Small scraps cling to the floor and our clothes. As soon as we hang up our favorite creations and recycle the other papers I watch the kids grab a fresh sheet and start drawing. Yet, I see something more than just a mess.

As a lover of words, art, and creativity, I love seeing their creations. If I look closely and see what’s in front of me, with each word and picture, with every new line and color combination, a sense of their personality and heart emerges. Their artwork paints a picture of what they like and how they see the world. We get a glimpse of creation at its finest - honest, playful, hopeful; gifts offered to the world.

My kids show me over and over the joy found in creating and sharing our hearts with others. Watching them create without inhibition I’m reminded of how powerful it is to bear witness to imagination. And that when we create, we’re bringing beauty and hope into the world.

I wonder: could this be how God shows us beauty and love? Are there pieces of art scattered throughout our days which God uses to grab our attention? God created for us a tree of orange and red, a neighbor offering fresh baked bread, a child’s hand reaching out to be held, churches singing together, friends raising their voices in prayer. When we open our eyes to the life in front of us, can we see the ways God shows up? So often I’d rather pile my children’s artwork and put it out of sight, but then I realize that’s missing the point. Their artwork is a part of our lives, it’s joy and beauty and wonder and creativity. It’s love splashed and splattered on canvas. It’s God’s children delighting in this wondrous and vibrant world.

So as I begin a new day, I’m entering it with eyes open to seeing beauty and hope. I’m eager to watch God show up in the canvas of my days: in artwork from my children, a friend reaching out, a hot cup of coffee, a homemade meal, the morning sun.

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