I woke up to whack, whack, whack. It went on and on. It was not a thumping headache, although the sound was enough to give me one.

We’d arrived at our hotel the night before only minutes before midnight. After a delayed flight, we were tired from the long journey. I climbed out the Uber and onto a dark, rainy Manhattan street.

Black bags of refuse piled high on the sidewalk. Puddles from an earlier downpour, slick pavements, and uneven concrete made me begin to regret our decision to spend time in New York City, let alone think about moving here.

The disturbance at 7:00am did not make me feel any better.

Frustration drove me to bury my head under the covers, which did not muffle the sound at all. In the end, I decided to discover the source of the offending noise. I crawled out of bed, went to the window and raised the corner of the shade.

Sheer beauty in the street below took my breath away.

Overnight, the street stood transformed. Tubs of lavender, hibiscus, ivy bushes, leafy shrubs, small trees, and ornamental firs lined the sidewalk, up to three or four containers deep.

We were in the heart of the wholesale flower and plant district of New York City.

I forgot about the ugly hole with construction machinery hammering away across the street. Well, at least the delight to my eyes made up for the assault on my ears.

So often, I realize, I fail to look for the beauty in my circumstances, connections, and even in myself.

We look at what is unpleasant and let it dictate how we feel and what we think:

Frustration with a spouse whose work takes him or her away from home life, instead of focusing on times he or she is always attentive, like leaving an early morning cup of tea on the bedside table.

Seeing a child make a bad choice and blowing everything out of proportion, instead of thinking about all the good choices he or she has made.

Dismayed by the lines on our faces, instead of being glad for the laughter in our lives that formed them.

The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes our circumstances are like a dirty, dark street, a loud din, or a large gaping hole. But seeing the beauty is possible if we will only look.  

Use this prayer to help you see beauty whatever your circumstances.


Lord God, I want to see the little things

That bring beauty to my day

That make me smile and grateful to be alive.

I want to be attentive to

Even the tiniest way in which

You show your love and care for me.

When I’m overwhelmed by my circumstances,

When I’m fearful of the days ahead,

When I’m sad and upset,

Show me how to be


For every little thing that is delightful,

For every single person who is wonderful,

For even one moment when I experience

Your peace, love, and grace

In my life.


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