I’ve always loved hammocks. My grandparents had one, and I remember being a little girl of five or six, lying in a hammock, looking up at the blue of the summer sky and feeling expansive.
I didn’t use that word for it then, of course. Back then, a hammock meant “fun.” I’d take my dolls with me and crawl into it. Sometimes I would look up, and sometimes I would peer down over the edge and study the ground beneath. I noticed the differing heights of the blades of grass, the myriad insects that appeared and disappeared—they all fascinated me.
That hammock of my childhood is long gone, but I indulged myself at the end of last summer and finally bought one for my home. My eight-year-old son watched as I assembled it, and I thought I glimpsed in his eyes that same look that I had when I was his age. After I’d hooked the hammock onto the frame, he eagerly crawled in with me, and we were both enveloped in what felt like a womb of rainbow-colored canvas.
And my son, always so hyper and eager to be off doing his thing—playing baseball or video games—became quiet, as I did. We just lay there and stared at the sky, at the very tops of the trees.
After a while, he asked me, “Mommy, where do animals go when it rains?”
I had no answer to give him; I’d never given it much thought. But I love that question, because it makes me wonder. And as an adult, I find I have so little time for wonder in my life.
Now that summer again approaches, I’ve re-assembled my hammock after a long winter in storage. One recent morning I dragged it under the crabapple tree that flowers so fervently in our yard at this time of year. And, as I lay in it, I found my son’s question blooming once again in my mind.
As the hammock swayed gently, I turned my gaze upward to the branches heavy with pale blossoms. I could hear a steady humming sound; it was the bees who’d come to gather nectar, bumble and honeybees all busy, busy, busy. They had no time to rest.
But when it rains—they must stop, mustn’t they? I’ve never seen bees buzzing about or birds winging through our yard or chipmunks scampering about when it rains. No, they must return to their hives or their nests or their burrows and wait. They must come to rest.
Even the animals have their moments of quiet.
When we rest—and I don’t mean take a nap or plop down on the couch and watch TV, but rather “come to rest,” to allow our bodies and our minds to stop for a moment, to simply allow ourselves to exist, truly and fully—we allow ourselves to be. We allow ourselves to be absorbed into the fabric of all life, from the tiniest ant to the myriad wonders that lie beyond the blue of our sky. I’d never noticed the bees before, never noticed that my crabapple tree gave off the faint scent of honey when in bloom, never noticed how beautifully the color of the flowers contrasted with the the intense blue of that morning sky.
And maybe this is why I love wonder: because it is the state of contemplation, of awe, without the urgent, obsessive need to always find an answer. It allows us to sink back into the moment and be enveloped by it.
The world is full of wonders. Some are big, some are small, some are right there in your backyard. If you are a parent, you are raising one. It only takes a moment to notice. If your life is busy, if the world won’t allow you a moment of time, then I recommend a hammock and a warm summer day.
In a hammock, you have permission to be, and the world welcomes you.
Dejah Beauchamp has had a love of words ever since she read Alice In Wonderland as a child. In addition to raising her nine-year-old son, she makes time to nurture her love for kundalini yoga, reading and, of course, writing. You can often find her in the kitchen, trying out new recipes, or outside at night, stargazing. She lives in New England with her husband, son and a cat named Oona, but dreams of sunnier climes.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel