A Mottled Heart
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” ~Helen Keller
My grandchildren are visiting for a week at our family cottage.
One day we went in search of interesting rocks.
Well, they did; I held the bucket and made appropriate responses like, “Oh, that’s beautiful!” or “Nice one!” or “Wow!” when they found something and plopped it in the pail.
Maddie, who is not quite five years old, was more interested in being included than finding “interesting” rocks. Peyton, however, now a seven-year-old who has passed his swim test and no longer needs to wear a life jacket, which means he feels quite grown up, took the endeavour to heart and zeroed in on rocks with spots.
Previous rock hunts had focused on shape or size; this time it was speckled surfaces.
“That’s an interesting one, Peyton. It’s mottled.”
“What’s that mean, ‘mottled’?”
“It means things that have spots or streaked surfaces. A sky can be mottled, or a horse or dog. And rocks, too.”
“Oh.” Peyton stopped for a minute, absorbing the information, and then went back to searching for stones in the shallow water of our shoreline. Mottled rocks only.
Back and forth he went, several times, wet from the waist down, speckled rocks filling the pail I held. I was enjoying their enjoyment, but hardly involved at heart in this activity, hardly paying attention.
Suddenly, Peyton yelped. “Look, CC! Look what I found!”
He trotted toward me and opened his hand.
“Oh, it looks like a heart,” I said, thinking only of the shape.
“It’s a mottled heart, CC,” Peyton corrected me.
“Why, yes, it is mottled, Peyton. It has little white spots and black spots.”
“And pink.” Another correction.
Peyton turned the rock over in his palm and examined his discovery more closely.
“Yeah,” he said finally, “it’s just like a real heart.”
And suddenly, I was paying attention.
“A real heart…? I asked. “How so?”
“Uh huh. Yeah, you know. Like when you have happy stuff in your heart, it leaves white spots. And when you have bad things and feel sad or mad it’s like little black dots in your heart.”
His little fingers poked his chest.
“Why, yes, Peyton, that’s very insightful of you. We have good things and bad things that leave a mark on our hearts.”
“Yes, but CC, that’s what makes them so pretty—all the different colored spots. Hearts wouldn’t be pretty if they were all the same color, you know. just like these rocks.”
And then he was off again, in search of more stones, leaving me to ponder the wisdom of children yet again.
We all have them—I know I do—but apparently it takes a seven-year-old’s insight to make me pay attention, to embrace their beauty.
“If you only look at the black spots, it makes your heart hurt.”
The kid continues to amaze—and teach—me.
He sees life with his heart.
Would that we all did.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”~Antoine de Saint-Exupery