You are 12. Sitting at the cusp of your teen years, you are exceptional at many things, best of all at being Caleb. You are intricately, uniquely created. You rushed to the house yesterday, your freshly turned 12 self, and had eyes so round and full I thought they might spill over. My instinct told me you weren’t hurt or worried. But I knew you needed all of my attention with one glance. You could scarcely get the words out as you beckoned me with your body to come with you. Baby cousin in arms, I loped across the grass with you to see the amazing, beautiful thing that blended in so quietly, so perfectly with the mottled tree bark I still can’t believe your eyes could see it. A barred owl. Mysterious and stunningly marked with stripes of brown mixed with cream. Looked just like strips of tree bark. But with huge brown eyes staring down. Right at you. Right at all of us. All of us who would have missed it. Would have missed the crazy flurry of protective mama-birds diving and squawking terrified back in the forest at the day time sight of this looming predator. You explored and wondered until your curiosity at the strange behavior gave way to the answer, sitting up high on a tree branch.
This is the essence of you. You who sees hidden wonders. You who feels deeply. You who hears amplified. You who experiences the whole of life in a way I can’t, won’t ever, fully be able to understand. You have, in all your one-of-a-kind way, opened up slivers of life that we would not have known had you not been given to this family. Your passion for the created world? Blows. My. Mind. The way you pay attention to the smallest detail in the sedimentary lines formed in a rock sample (of which you now own close to 200). The way you disappear for an hour and then return with a collection of insects and tell me what they are. The way you gently place a blue lace-wing moth on your baby sisters’ chubby finger and watch in delight as it crawls across her hand. The way you care for your seed starts that sit in your bedroom. The way you can read a (great) book for three hours and not think to look away from the page or stop for water or take a break. All these ways and a thousand more. I love them, every one.
We have been stretched by who you are. In the best way. Stretched to expand and grow and to learn new things, new ways, new love. So much we would miss if you weren’t here to show us. You point our eyes to see the owl and beckon our ears to listen for the woodpecker. Thank you for this. Don’t stop being awestruck. Don’t stop letting beauty and creation and life take your breath away.
All my love,
ps – Thank you for seeing this beautiful pink flower three years ago deep in the forest and digging it up carefully and planting it right by the front door “so you could see it mom”. Three years now it has faithfully bloomed and brings me deepest joy. This is the kind of thing you do. This is who you are.