Little Details are So Important, Make Sure You “Stand and Stare!”

Details, Details, Details!! Do you ever feel overtaken by details?  Sometimes my life seems like one long stream of details.  Some carefully adhered to, some missed, some ignored and all with consequences!

My day job is accounting.  When you work with the numbers and activities within a time period, the reports are only as good as the input or details that have been included.  Leave out any tiny component and your results will be skewed.

My husband is now retired and loves spending some of his spare time re-arranging the living room furniture to see how long it takes me to discover what was moved.  While I am a detail-oriented person, this can sometimes take me awhile! Often I am so into the cerebral, since I deal with facts all day, that I miss the visual details of beauty or change around me.

Details in our jobs are of paramount importance.  But the small details of the rest of our lives are equally important.  How sad if we miss them…

Vladimir Nabokov said: “Caress the detail, the divine detail.”  So, which details will I give the greater importance?  Will the cold hard details of my job be my total focus, making me be blind to the details of beauty, nature and family which are the God-given blessings of our life?

Divine details… Here are a few I saw just today.  See if you relate…

 

*Bella, our dog, has this uncanny sense of my moods and is the epitome of a totally faithful, totally structured creature. When she gets the nod from Lou, she hurls herself down the sidewalk with breakneck speed in obvious joy to greet me at lunch and in the evenings when I arrive from work. She reminds me of how God must feel when we are anxious to spend time with Him each day!

*The hummingbirds fight over the feeder.  The bull-nosed one always wins. It makes me think of how persistence and not giving in easily is such a blessed attribute. Sometimes we need to be bull-headed to protect the precious.

*The first strawberries of the season always taste better. God-given gifts such as this, my favorite fruit, can even seem blasé when you get it too often or too easily.

*There’s a wonderful little black and gray bird who seems to accompany me each day on my morning walk.  He lights close by here and there all along the way.  He reminds me of angels.

*If you pick your green beans every few days they keep producing for a long time.  If you ignore them, new blooms cease and soon there are no more beans.  The treasures this life offers, including relationships, need attention and nourishing or they can wither and die.

Ponder this wonderful poem:

“WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
by W.H. Davies

 

Remember how I said ignoring details has consequences?

What if WE “have no time to stand and stare”?

Like the green beans that don’t get picked, will the beauty of life just disappear for us?

May it never be so!

 

In dealing with the necessary details, always make time for the divine ones.

Are you making time “to stand and stare”?

Anne

About Anne

The youngest of 8, I was born in a tiny town in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan in the late 40’s. My minister parents died 6 months apart around the time of my 5th birthday. My older siblings raised us in the family home until all were graduated except me. Gradually only the boys remained, so at the age of 10 I moved to other homes. My childhood was rich with experiences that sparked my young imagination. When I finally read the Anne of Green Gables series, I totally identified with Anne.
I have just celebrated my 46th anniversary with my dear husband, Lou. Our daughter, April, 4 grandchildren and one great granddaughter bring our family a lot of joy and reasons to be thankful.
I have worked at O’Connor Mortuary since 1996 where I handle the accounting. The Mortuary has become extended family and it is a source of satisfaction as a job I thoroughly enjoy.
We attend the Village Church and that is another wonderful extended family, one who not only worships and learns together, but loves and prays for one another at the drop of a hat.

We live in a retirement community and enjoy taking our two dogs, a Bernese Mountain Dog and little Cocker Spaniel, to Dana Point Harbor for Sunday jaunts.

I absolutely love participating in the Mortuary Blog. I have found my voice! Thanks for following me.

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  • Kim Stacey

    I absolutely loved this post, Anne. Great job. It’s my firm belief that the joys of living are found in the details: the taste of that strawberry; the odd beauty of the banana slug eating from the outdoor cat food bowl…the short chin hairs on my aging terrier…the list could go on and on. I think people who don’t make the time to take the time to “stop and stare” are missing out on a lot. (This isn’t to say I’m always, 100% of the time, attentive…I just do my best!)

    “Caress the detail, the divine detail.” Nabokov was so right! As a woman who earns her living from writing non-fiction content, I know how important, how essential, those details are. When I ignore them, out of time constraints or simply a lack of interest in the subject, the words on the page are flat and boring.

    Thanks again, Anne, for another wonderful post!

    • Anne Collins

      Kim,
      I so appreciate that you are following what I write. The older I get, the more precious everything is becoming. It is hard to describe the deep emotion that comes as I think of the preciousness of each of my remaining siblings, as I cherish the jaunts with my husband to the ocean on Sundays, watching for the tiny details that repeat in my day that bring joy. I eat my strawberries slower than I used to.
      We used to take roadtrips up the coast in the hippie era in our little VW camper. I will never forget one time we stopped in the middle of nowhere to rest our legs and move around. There was a field of cows eating grass just across the fence. My husband cranked up Simon and Garfunkle full blast singing the “The Sound of Silence and Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and opened all the doors. All the cows stopped and stared and listened until the songs ended, then they all bent down to the grass again. Now THAT was a divine detail impressed on my brain for always.
      Enjoy those details. They will inspire you always. Hugs, Anne

  • Lori Bristol

    Anne,

    You are such a wonderful writer! Your posts are always so heartwarming.

    As you know, I am a dog lover as well. Many times while I am walking mine I have my phone out reading emails or looking at Facebook.
    Yesterday my Bella encountered a caterpillar on our walk. Usually my reaction would be to pull her away, continue walking and looking down at my phone. For whatever reason I stopped and let her check out her discovery.
    I was so tickled to see her sniff at the caterpillar as it crawled up her nose. She pawed at it, licked it and played with it for a good five minutes. The unhappy ending is when she was finished playing she ate it, lol!
    I got a good laugh out of watching her play with it. We must take time to stand and stare.

    Thank you for this post!
    Love you!

    • Anne Collins

      Thanks, Lori for the compliment. I have to say, the day before he died, my dear pastor brother in law said one of the ways to be close to God is never to think too highly of ourselves, so I will leave it alone.
      I forgot you have a Bella, Too. Bella means “beautiful” I was told, and it is the beauty of the divine details that is strong on my mind the last little while.
      I loved your sharing of the caterpillar story. I hope his demise was swift and painless.
      Many hugs
      Anne

  • Jeff Turner

    Anne,

    I love this posting! My very first silent retreat I was alone for three days at the retreat center in the wooded mountains in Southern California. After getting things put into my room and getting the lay of the land I went outside to sit on a bench. I just sat and observed. The activity of the birds and squirrels drew my occasional glance as the afternoon breeze brought the scent of pine and sage and with it memory of other days spent in similar surroundings. Off to my right was a small footbridge that crossed a dry creek. It was reminiscent of the simple bridges I would make as a child in the sand at the park with twigs donated by the local trees. As I let go of the “cares” of the day and began to listen to God, I sensed the most absurd suggestion. “Why don’t you make a bridge?” “What? Get down in the dirt, make a miniature canyon, find twigs break them and make a bridge?” “Why not? Do it!” “I haven’t done this since I was ten. I’m fifty-two!?” Well, I did it. I took pictures. I stared at it. I began to think about how much I like to look at things, especially those I have made. I joke about the 18 foot sailboat I built taking me three years to complete. Six months of building and two and a half years of staring. I brought that thought to God. I sensed Him saying, “I like looking at them too.” Think of it. Is it possible that the creator of the universe might like to stop and stare at his creation. It is recorded that after each phase of creation God said each was good. He must have been staring.

    I give myself permission now to stop and stare. I am following my Father’s example.

    Thank you for bringing all this to mind for me with this beautifully written piece.

    Jeff

    • Anne Collins

      Jeff
      I have to say that my eyes blurred with tears as I read your post. I had to blink a few times and start the sentences over. The thought of our Creator stopping and staring at what He has made, including us, is sooo cool.
      When we create something that takes great effort and into which we pour ourselves, like you did into your boat, or even your bridges, we should remember to stop and stare at those, too. Thankful for creative ability, perhaps even amazed that something that cool came out of us!
      If I remember what you said before, you somehow were the only person who showed up for the silent retreat? I think God intended that for you. Just you and Him and all those wonderful details for you to rediscover.
      Thank you so much for sharing. Hugs, Anne

    • Jeff –

      I love the experience you had on your retreat, “building the bridge.”
      It is so great to see you dive into building relationship bridges, you have been given gifts to help us understand how we can develop our selves. You are an amazing teacher, I am thankful to be in your company.

      Neil

      • Jeff Turner

        Neil,

        Your family’s kindnesses to me have overflowed my expectations for my occupational life, while enriching my personal life in the most significant ways. Your willingness to challenge me in my darkest days and then stay beside me day by day has had the most significant impact upon the trajectory of my life.

        Thank you Neil for the opportunity to serve with you in any small way.

        Blessings upon you and yours,

        Jeff

  • Carrie Bayer

    Anne, I love this! Thank you so much for the reminder to slow down & take in the little things around us- little things have a big impact sometimes. I also appreciate you for giving me a pep talk this morning, I so needed it & am taking your words & prayer to heart. I love you! Carrie

    • Anne Collins

      Carrie, I love you, too. I so love also that we are both so partial to hummingbirds and the way God seems to use them in our immediate worlds. We all need an emotional boost sometimes. Next time, it will probably be my turn! Almost time to go home and check out some more details to stare at. Glad you took time to read and comment!
      Hugs.

  • Anne –

    This post comes at a great time! I have been struggling with staying in the moment and enjoying the little gifts that are right in front of me. To much thinking about the past and worry about the future. One of my yoga teachers taught me a great lesson recently, ” Your response will determine your experience.” I found that to be so profound considering I have been living my life between the past and the future and not being able to enjoy the moment. Thank you for reminding me to stay grounded and in the moment.

    • Anne Collins

      Neil
      “Your response will determine your experience”… I immediately think of the times I get nervous in traffic, especially when I am not the driver. I allow my inability to handle the situation “my way” to affect my emotions and my ride.
      When I truly relinquish control of a situation and sit back and enjoy the ride, my experience is much more satisfying. Now that is worth chewing on and expanding mentally… Thank you!

  • Anne, I think that being able to notice the small details are a gift. And in my own experience, one that comes with age. I used to love to take a lot of pictures, and being an amateur photographer helped me see the details in a lot of things I might not have seen at a younger age. My eyes are not what they used to be, and my camera now is a small digital point and shoot. But still I stop when out on walks or hikes, or drives, and try to look around and really SEE what is there. There is beauty everywhere, even in the mundane day-to-day.
    Thanks for your insight!

    • Anne Collins

      Annette
      You make a good point. A camera and a desire to capture the details of what is around us heightens our ability to “see” divine details. My husband is also a photographer so, I have always let him take the pictures. If I had my own point and shoot handy all these years, I might have seen more divine details. I recall one exploring walk in the woods along a path behind a sprawling tract of homes where we had just rented in MI years ago. It separated all the homes from a canal out to Lake Michigan. We kept seeing a different mushroom here and there. Lou had his camera of course and took closeups. When developed, we had about 20 totally different mushrooms, purple, black, brown, orange, tan, white, tiny round in clusters, big and puffy, flat like pancakes with latticed edges. We were amazed and made a wall collage of framed mushrooms while we lived at that house, to remind us of the beauty, just beyond the back yard fence. Thank you for following my blog. Welcome! Hugs!

  • Anne,
    I’m in love with the idea of “Divine Details”. I’ve been thinking a great deal about this post and the implications that “stopping and staring” could have upon my day. Yesterday I had some lovely moments, I was sitting outside at a dear friends house with a gorgeous view of the coast. I noticed:
    – The beautiful blue of the water: everytime I think about how blue it is I wonder if it’s from the sky of if the sky is blue from the water. I’m sure someone knows but I don’t.
    – The laughter: everyone was happily talking, laughing & sincerely enjoying the people around them.
    – The dog: my new friend Duke, a golden retriever, was so happy to be petted that he would plop his paws up on your arms and lean so far back in happiness you would have to catch him to keep him from tumbling. So funny & so much joy.
    – The friendships: these are very special people to me & the things we were able to share, learn from each other & laugh about are treasures of mine.
    It was a sparkling afternoon and even though there was a lot of movement & energy I still was able to take some “snapshots” in my mind that I have recalled for you here.
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reflect & the idea to take this time in the first place.

    Love you!

    • Molly
      You really did it!! I have been trying to do it, also. And thank you for sharing it here. I could see the water and the gathering of precious friends and experienced the joy with Duke. This is making us more “ALIVE”. As I get older, I feel so strongly that each day must count more fully in every possible way. Maybe it is just the times and younger people feel it too, not sure, but you definitely captured the divine moments of a divine afternoon.
      Love you, too!

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Anne
    I’ve been reading the book “The Power of Pause” by Terry Hershey, and I realize that when I’m given moments I do “stand and stare” more than I thought. I spend most every week-end with Kristen, Jeff and the girls. Kristen is an incredible “farmer”. Her backyard is filled with delightful edibles that she has nurtured with her hands. One week they are buds and in a matter of days there is a harvest. I love her garden and all that it means to her family and the friends that are recipients of it. I also spend a lot of time watching my granddaughter Sofia. She has, more than anyone, taught me to be in the moment, take notice and relish in the simplicity of our lives. We waste way too much time agonizing over things we cannot change, or for missteps we have made. My Sofia has taught me that we all have flaws, we all have imperfections. But it is in those imperfections that we find our place. Our moment to stop, be still, and seek peace. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.
    Lovingly,
    Pat

    • Pat,
      The Power of Pause… The title sure fits what was on my mind. I would think you would be one to stand and stare when you can. You have such a wonderful, creative mind and I have seen the artistic results of your hand in the past, from beautiful calligraphy to hand-crafted things you made. To do that, you have to be able to really see detail. The beauty of nature and the miracles of our little ones provide such a rich landscape on which to stare.
      Love
      Anne

    • Pat,
      The Power of Pause… The title sure fits what was on my mind. I totally see you as someone who would stand and stare when you can. You have such a wonderful, creative mind. I have seen the artistic results of your hand in the past, from beautiful calligraphy to hand-crafted things you made. To do that, you have to be able to really see detail. The beauty of nature and the miracles of our little ones provide such a rich landscape on which to stare. Thank you for sharing things you have seen and the peace it has brought you.
      Love
      Anne

  • Annie,
    I really look forward to reading your posts. Thank you once again for a brilliant read. I love to just stop and sit and take in my surroundings, especially when it involves nature. I have shared this love with my kids, and now when they spy a flower, dragonfly, hummingbird, or a cloud formation they believe would make me smile they are quick to bring it to my attention. My older kids will even go so far as to snap a pic and text it to me so I don’t miss out on the beauty. At times I have experienced a battle inside of me to get up and “do something” instead of staying and enjoying my time to stare. Recently I have found that on my evenings and weekends, I truly value that time after being in front of a computer for hours. Thank you for giving me the permission to enjoy these precious moments.
    Lots of Love,
    Kari

    • Kari
      The byword you like to use is “lovemylife”. I think that is partly personal perspective, partly recognizing the blessings of God and a whole lot of “stopping and staring at the divine details” of your life and having the attitude of gratitude over them. When we can tenaciously hold onto the childlike wonder over the beauty of our surroundings, we truly can say “lovemylife”.
      Love you back,
      Anne

    • Kari
      The byword you like to use is “lovemylife”. I think that is partly personal perspective, partly recognizing the blessings of God and a whole lot of “stopping and staring at the divine details” of your life and having the attitude of gratitude over them. When we can tenaciously hold onto the childlike wonder over the beauty of our surroundings, we truly can say “lovemylife”.
      Love you back,
      Anne

  • Greg Forster

    Anne,

    You have put this life struggle in such compelling words.

    Your words themselves, after I finished reading this piece, made me push back my chair and just STOP.
    Aren’t you blessed that you realize the value of large things, of small things, of things that happen quickly and those that happen slowly, of those that are apparently beautiful, and those that hide their beauties inside. Things that you can see, and those you can only hear.

    We have all heard of those who are missing one of their 5 senses, and we feel sorry for them. But sometimes, they say “Wait…don’t feel sorry for me…because losing one has made my others more acute than yours. I may be blind, but in other ways, I can “see” more clearly than you!”

    I remember a book that I still have from the 70’s and only partially read. It was called “FutureShock”, and dealt with how technology would speed things up in our lives to the point where the future would keep hitting us with itself and we would stress out with our frustrations of trying to keep up. It didn’t give me exactly very good feelings about being adequate, but I was a young guy and said “I’ll believe it when I see it”, only to realize later that I had already been living it.

    Don’t ever lose the ability to just let yourself go, wherever you are, and JUST…SAY..WOW!

    P.S. …and if that sweet innocent little bird gently alights on a branch directly above you, for GOD’S SAKE…don’t STOP and STARE!

    Best to you, Greg

    • Oh Greg!
      Number one, you should be on our blog team. You have such a way with words. And thanks for your warning. Can’t imagine bird _ _ _ _ in the eye!
      Hugs,
      Anne

  • Amy

    Anne,
    I look forward to your posts. They are always heartfelt and uplifting. What a good reminder to slow down and take it all in. Makes me keep it in perspective.
    Thanks for the poem too!
    Amy

    • Amy,
      Thank You for taking time to follow. We who post are so vulnerable in a way and it means a lot to get the comments. Keeps us going, so to speak, since this is a new venture for all of us. I absolutely loved that poem when I found it.
      Hugs,
      Anne

  • Sharon

    Anne

    I loved the poem and the rest of your thoughts. I too am a big believer in taking the time to stop and smell the roses, the fresh air or look at the beauty around us each day. I especially am drawn to big, billowey clouds!

    I especially liked your statement – “If you pick your green beans every few days they keep producing for a
    long time. If you ignore them, new blooms cease and soon there are no
    more beans. The treasures this life offers, including relationships,
    need attention and nourishing or they can wither and die.” I find this statement to be so true of relationships in general. The ones we truly care about have to be nurtured to last. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to keep it going, but it does take some effort or they die!

    I always enjoy reading your thoughts. They inspire and lift me.

    I appreciate your friendship.

    Sharon

    • I have been in situations relationally that are like the unpicked green beans and then have to realize that a ton of sudden water will just drown them, not repair anything that was neglected.
      Thank you Sharon for following me. I so appreciate you and your friendship also. Anne

  • Shayna Mallik

    Anne,
    Thank you so much for this post. This, as all your posts, are so amazing to read and I always enjoy when I read them. 🙂

    • Shayna
      Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to check out my blog. Glad to know you are out there.
      Hugs,
      Anne