My mother used to take my brother and me for walks. We lived on a small orchard in central Indiana where we could walk through the trees or along the gravel roads nearby. She would encourage me to look up and enjoy the many things to see along the way. “Look down for a penny and you might miss the pot of gold just over there.” She was right about that in so many ways, but too often I catch myself looking at ground near my feet.

The sodden fiasco that 2020 has become for so many of us has shaped our outlook and defined our every moment. Constant caution blocks spontaneity. Stretches of identical days inspire an equally monochromatic response. The most troubling result for me has been getting stuck on a tiny trouble and allowing that little annoyance to grow into my only focus. I found my ‘penny’ and its petty value has stolen the treasure of life.

This week, stuck on a small sadness I couldn’t shake, I went outside to enjoy the evening air. The sun was near setting, and its warm light flooded the yard and trees. The sky’s blue was rich, deep, and soft. The wisps of a cloud flashed warm and white in contrast, fueled by the cozy light. I tilted my head up and began to see it all as one image. That combined beauty took my breath. The sudden wide angle look at the big world was a tonic so potent my sadness lost its power.

The inspiration in this miracle moment sent me to grab a camera and the widest angle lens I could find. Capture this! Any small bit of this broadband beauty might just be enough to break through the fog of frustration, the longing of isolation. Looking through the camera and framing those moments helped me see their splendor anew – again and again.

Look up! Look up, look long and look wide to let in as much light and beauty as you can. Take it in all at once. Breathe it in. Gulp it in. Capture as much of it as you can and hold it in.