celosia cristata… beauty found
In truth, I was never a big fan of cockscomb. They always kinda reminded me of li’l brains- impossibly brightly hued and green stemmed ones- but brains none the less. Maybe some kinda alien brain. Then there was the time I tried to like them. Eyed a bouquet of wild cut, hand tied flowers at a farmers market that made my heart sing, I tried not to mind seeing them interspersed among the beautiful blooms that stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the contact high that seems to course through me whenever I find myself at a farmers market, surrounded by so much beauty, light and life. I gazed at them in wonderment- on that day I saw them through different eyes- they actually looked kinda beautiful to me basking in the shine of the sun. Said bouquet made it home with me and onto the kitchen table. Within a couple days there was a putrid stink and the stems of the cockscomb were covered in a gelatinous slime that confirmed my initial suspicion and placed them back on the very short list of flowers I’m not a fan of (carnations and those ones that look like little cabbages) and on that list they remained for a few years.
As I was getting ready to head out the door to teach Sunday, li’l man tugged on my arm, “Mama, I love you and I want to give you a gift.” Giggling. Then the feet pitter pattering dancing and jumping down the hall. There was something about the sound of his little fist pounding on the door of the bathroom repeatedly and his little voice wailing in a vain attempt to overpower the sound of water pouring down from the shower, “Paaaaappppiiiii!!! Paaaaapppppiiii!!!!! I want to give mama a gift. We have to go to the flower store. Papi, can you hear me? I really really really want to give mama some flowers.” As I left, carried him and this li’l exchange in my heart- smiling wide, thinking of the gift that he’d already given. I was expecting to see him outside of the studio door when I emerged from class. No sign of him.
When our paths crossed once again, he was beaming bright, carrying a wrapped bouquet. As I knelt down and gathered him in my arms I snuck a peek in. There they were. Golden yellow and strawberry red cockscomb. Apologies were offered for running a little behind. Seems the flower store was closed so they found a deli and Kai stared in wided eyed amazement trying to figure out which flowers to pick. He stood in silence, gazing and said “They’re all so beautiful.” He assessed each bouquet before zeroing in on the bunch now lovingly thrust into my hands in exchange for the bagel I placed in his. Staring in his proud, shining eyes, I felt my heart soften, expand and shift, “They really are so beautiful” I said. And I meant it.
There are gifts we are given daily-- one of the most precious is the recognition that how we see things changes. Nothing is fixed. We are ever evolving beings with lenses that fundamentally alter our experience of the thing itself. There is no beauty out there. Beauty is found by a heart that is open. Beauty is seen through loving eyes. As I lovingly clipped each stem and arranged the flowers in the vase I was reminded of the first line of a resonant prayer whispered in my ear as I entered a sweat lodge years ago, “May your eyes see beauty as never before...” At home on my kitchen table, crossed off the list that no longer exists, Celosia Cristata :: beauty found.