A few years ago, we enjoyed a summer vacation in Maine, the camping kind involving a tent and hiking boots. Since it was not the first time we’d traveled around Maine, we had an idea of what to look forward to—the rocky coastline, the sleepy clapboard villages, the saltsprayed restaurants serving mouthwatering blueberry pie and to-die-for lobster, the lighthouses marking way to safe harbors, the wildlife and wildflowers and pristine wilderness. Maine has a way of stealing a heart, or at least capturing the wild at heart. And so, we ventured back to Maine for another summer vacation not knowing we were in for more than we had imagined.
That summer, not only did we see a Bald Eagle and a moose in action close range, but we again explored the majestic Acadia National Park and dug up even more hidden treasures. There, beside a tiny village on Somes Sound, we happened upon a breathtaking field of lupine. For moments standing in the lupine meadow, I realized that the natural beauty would stay with me forever. The photographs I took (including the one above) stand to remind me of that day.
Afterward, a dear Boston friend gave us a remarkable picture book entitled Miss Rumphius, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, which won the American Book Award. The story contained within the book, with its gentle images and serene cadence, is hauntingly beautiful, another reminder for me of the lupine meadow.
In the book, Alice, the main character, sits on the knee of her grandfather, who tells her of three things she must do in her life: travel to faraway places, live beside the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. As a result, Alice Rumphius makes her way through life … and eventually discovers her own way of making the world more beautiful. Full circle in the end, as Miss Alice Rumphius, now old, tells her young niece of the three things, they look out on the surrounding Maine hills covered with lupine meadows, all which started with a single seed scattered by Miss Rumphius.
It is amazing to imagine, with a world full of people rife with gifts to share that life would be much richer if we were to open up our lives to impacting the world for good. I’m perpetually inspired by World Vision (http://www.worldvision.org/) and their work on behalf of the extreme poor in the world, and more recently by Michael Hyatt (http://michaelhyatt.com/) and his traveling companions just arriving back from a trip to Ethiopia. Certainly traveling to faraway places has a way of opening our minds to more than just ourselves and our hearts to helping others. I find vacations by the sea to be unsurpassed, and would love to someday live with the waves crashing at my doorstep. But truly, finding our unique place in the world, finding the place where we can share our lives and experiences and gifts with the world around us, opening our minds by experiencing faraway places (whether it is around the corner or around the world), that is the place I think where we begin to make the world more beautiful, the sum of all three, the point, I think, of Miss Rumphius. Perhaps by offering our lives to help others, we can truly make the world more beautiful. In my mind, nothing can be more significant and worthwhile than that …
… It all begins with one small seed.