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Miss Interpretation

In seeking the silence that feeds my imagination and restores my soul, I went to my favorite park, lovingly called “the trail park” by my children because that’s all that’s there–trails. No playground, no flushing toilets, just trails and a pond full of frogs, which we named Frog Pond. (There’s a floating bridge that stretches across Frog Pond, which we call, you guessed it!, Floating Bridge. There’s also Dancing Tree and Muck Valley.) On this particular spring day, I was escaping a busy and noisy house of homeschooling, music practice and a boisterous baby boy.

As I perfected my speed-walking and burned those pesky calories, I noticed clumps of daffodils in the woods; little communities of yellow, huddling together for warmth on this cool Spring day. I also noticed, to my horror, several daffodil petals on the trail, then a flower stalk, then a flower head. My writer’s mind immediately pictured the villain: a bony little girl with cold, white fingers, tearing apart the flowers and scattering them along the trail, singing a whiny song about her hatred of the color yellow.

What was this evil child’s motivation, I wondered? Was it an expression of frustration, a release of anger because of her over-bearing parents? Did she enjoy the feel of petal fibers shredding as she peeled them away and dropped them to the ground?

As I turned a corner, I saw the culprit. There she stood–her sweatshirt a little muddy and her pants tucked into shiny ladybug boots, the kind with big googly eyes on the toes. As she ran with a fresh bunch of daffodils gripped firmly in her hands, the plastic eyes on her ladybug boots spun wildly. Her ponytail holder was seconds from falling from her fine, brunette hair. She was boney…and cute. “Mommy,” she called to a woman further down the trail, “look at the trail now! Doesn’t it look pretty?” She skipped away, tossing another petal onto the bland trail, decorating the asphalt with brilliant yellow.

Enter the lesson. I was quick to judge (and my imagination might be just a bit overactive!) On the practical side, I learned that my trail of actions can be easily misinterpreted. How many times have I been quick to judge? How often do I see only a piece of the puzzle, but think I know everything? And when I realize my error, am I humble enough to apologize? Tough questions in a tough world.

I think of my garden now. When I look at it, I see the fruits of my labor, the growing plants and the green. Oh! The green! Other people notice the weeds first. They are green after all. It’s not a perfect garden in appearance, but the bounty is beautiful to me.

Social Media is full of quick-witted quotes and memes that help us become better Christians, better spouses, friends, parents…in a nutshell: people. (It’s also full of other stuff that doesn’t help us at all, thus the nuts that are out there! I’m just focusing on the good.) Here are a few gems:

When you judge another person, you do not define them. You define yourself.

Counting other people’s sins does not make you a saint.

Don’t confuse luck with skill when judging others--and especially when judging yourself!

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. -Saint Teresa of Calcutta

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

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