The “Sanibel stoop” defines the posture of people searching for the perfect seashell on Florida beaches. Even people who seldom notice their natural surroundings find themselves scanning the sand for shells. I don’t know what it is about the beach that makes us want to find beautiful objects, but I suspect we should do it even more often in other settings. Where can we find beauty and even love in our commute to work or sitting in line at the school, or waiting for the teller at the bank? If there is beauty in the world, it is not always found in art museums, or jewelry stores or on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Sometimes love is found the careful stitching of a skirt hem or the greengrocer’s artful pyramid of vegetables or a toddler’s hug. Unlike shells, the love we find hidden in the world seldom needs to be rinsed off, and will not crumble in our pockets. Instead, it stays safe in our memory against a time when we need it, or when we need to look again for love, having lost it.
We often experience this after a head cold; while we are sick, food doesn’t have much taste. But as we feel better, it is amazing how much pleasure is to be found in a crisp apple, or a sip of coffee or a buttered potato. We lost our taste for a while, and now it seems very precious indeed.
Sometimes love seems to be in short supply. We’re almost tempted to hoard it, because it seems so rare. But in fact, if we are willing to stoop, love is all around us; under our feet, stuck in a crack, welling up in the face of a dear one, reflected in an icicle. Today, let us look all around us, and find the beauty of love in unexpected places.