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The Capacity for Delight

This Week’s Writing Prompt

Recently, I took an early evening walk in the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Sybelia in Maitland and heard an owl’s characteristic hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo, which sounded something like, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?”

I followed his call, expecting this to be the cry of a small owl I’d never find hidden high up in the thick canopy of trees. A few minutes later, I felt both surprised and delighted as I looked up into the eyes

of a barred owl. He stood two feet tall and stared down at me with wide black, unblinking eyes contrasted by his light-colored face. I hoped he knew I was admiring him and not a threat of any sort.

What a glorious creature! I felt honored to have connected with him for that moment and to have a chance to snap a photo before I moved on, leaving him in peace.

Beautiful, unexpected moments—great and small—happen around us all the time. If only we slow down and take notice.  

Recall a moment when you were surprised and delighted.

        • What happened?
        • Who or what did it involve?
        • How did you feel?
        • Do you have these kinds of experiences regularly, or was this an unusual occurrence?

Share your response in the comments section below. 


  • Judy Shears
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Thank you for your writing prompts.

    This past Tuesday was just that kind of day, one of seeing surprises from animals. But my story is not nearly as enchanting as yours.

    As I was driving to work a hawk dropped suddenly from a tree and grabbed a squirrel in its talons right along the side of the road. The poor little guy was just minding his own business in the short grass. He didn’t know the danger lurking above. I was pleased to see the quickness of the hawk but disturbed to witness his catch.

    Just a short distance further in my drive a butterfly crossed my line of sight. I thought surely this must be a good omen.

    At the close of my workday, shortly after I began my drive homeward, a lizard popped his head from beneath the windshield wipers and gave me a quick look before he jumped onto the hood of the car! Since there was no convenient place to stop I just told him to get back into the well of the wipers to stay safe. When I stopped to retrieve him, he was nowhere to be seen so I just hoped for the best for him

    It is always good to notice the little things that give us surprise and delight…and sometimes other feelings.

    • Patricia Charpentier
      Posted November 16, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks, Judy. What an interesting day you had! It is amazing to see a predator capture its prey, but you’re right, it is disturbing. I always feel for the fish the ospreys lift right out water as they are going about being a fish. We’ll keep looking and being surprised and delighted.

  • Diane Gosheff
    Posted November 17, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    November 12th, this year, about 5 p.m., I grabbed the bag of mail for my neighbor, walked through the garage from my kitchen and out onto the driveway. What if a bear is around? Maybe I should go back and close the garage door. No, it’s daylight and I’ll only be right across he street. Fifteen steps to the corner of my house and I looked around it to the east. Staring back at me with surprise was the mother bear that’s been hanging around with two cubs.

    Back pedaling, I went into the house and pressed the button to lock her out of my garage. It is a wasteland for bears because a refrigerator filled with meals, chocolate wrapped in gold foil, ice cream and beer does not reside there like in the neighbors’ garages.

    Mom B hung around for thirty minutes, waltzing across Karen’s lawn next door and up the her front, peering in the windows. Unsuccessfully, I called her cell phone with a reminder that her garage door was wide open and 320 pounds of black bear was hungry.

    • Post Author
      Posted November 19, 2019 at 11:48 am

      Diane, it sounds like you were not altogether surprised to see Mama Bear just around the corner when you went outside. It was you who surprised her! Too bad your garage lacked all the goodies she must have been searching for, lest she and the cubs find delight, too! Thanks for sharing about Mom B.

  • Anne Marie Mattison
    Posted November 17, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Dear Patricia,

    Yes, I also thank you for your writing prompt! This is the first time I have written anything in response to your writing prompt.

    I cannot tell you the exact date of this moment in time except that it was in July of 2003. Why do I remember the year and the month? On July 6th of that year, I opened my parent’s front door at 10 PM to see two Army officers standing on the porch along with my husband. I knew immediately why they were there. They came to tell me that my beloved son, Jeffrey, 22 years young, had been KIA in Iraq. The next 2 weeks were very much a blur. My dear sister, Sharon, stayed with me for a week following the funeral. It was hard to let her go. We had been through a lot in the 55 years we grew up together. I knew she knew how damaged my heart was.

    As we stood in my driveway and I prepared to say good-bye, a butterfly fluttered near us and then, it lit on my shoulder. I wish I could remember the color of the butterfly but I can’t. But, I think it was yellow. I remember smiling at her, and she at me, as we both knew who it was—my beloved Jeffrey. I had never had a butterfly do that before. And, I haven’t since.

    But, we both knew.


    Anne Marie Mattison

    • Post Author
      Posted November 19, 2019 at 11:45 am

      Oh, Anne Marie. I am so very sorry for the loss of your Jeffrey. I’m not a parent, but I have heard that it is a loss you never get over. In the midst of such inexplicable grief, I cannot imagine what a gift, a solace, it must have been to sense your dear Jeffrey so near. It is truly a mystery how nature, and small, tender moments like that can comfort us. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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