#52sparks: From Above

“What stands out to you?”

That’s the question I ask my students after they read an article in class or we watch a video clip. I want their first impressions without any guidance or stated expectations. Yes, I have some follow-up questions planned to help connect with our plans of the day, but really I enjoy the rabbit trails that that starting question leads to. And so often their responses teach all of us something unexpected and good.

So before you read anything more from me, look at the picture for this post and consider: What stands out to you?


I took that picture during a recent walk. Oregon, like much of the United States, is under a “shelter-in-place” order from our governor. I am inside my apartment for about 23 hours of the day, with a walk or run each day (6 feet from others) to get out some of the energy and crazy.

These little flowers were in a long patch of green leaves. The rest of the row was just leaves so they stood out like a beacon in the night. The color is what caught my eye first, and how perfect they appeared on a cloudy day.

When I got closer, what stood out was how the flowers and leaves created different levels with some in front of others. The largest flower was fully intact, while one below seemed broken or wounded. I have no plant knowledge beyond “pretty” and “ew” so I assume that smaller one was eaten a bit by bugs. With the layers among the leaves and flowers, it was almost like they were protecting one another. Like the stronger flower was up front to give the other time to heal. In the same way, human beings are doing the same thing in offering to get groceries or medical supplies for one another, and encoring those most vulnerable to stay home.

A last thing that stood out was something I did not even notice until I pulled up the picture to brainstorm what to write. Just above the two flowers appears to be the bud of another blossom that will bloom sometime next week (again, no plant knowledge because I’m #NotThatKindOfDoctor). Amidst all of the things already happening for this bush is the first signs of what is next. And while there is so much fear happening for us humans, there are already the first signs of hope about what is next.

Thank goodness for these little chances to see something outside of ourselves, beyond ourselves, to remember that this moment is not all there is. It does not mean that being in this moment is not hard (it freaking is!); it just means that there is hope in the hard too.


“We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron, Star Wars: The Last Jedi). – #52sparks is my year-long writing series for 2020, based on an art prompt challenge. The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. This series is to explore what hundreds of inches and words can do.

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