by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.

We were on a weekend trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Although we were going back to a quaint town we had visited many times, we were staying at a bed & breakfast we had never been to before.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to break free from old habits and routines and be more open-minded and flexible in every area of my life. Perhaps it was this change in perspective and purpose that resulted in a new discovery when we toured the town.

Natchitoches, La., is renowned as the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territory, established in 1714, and is also famous for being the film site of “Steel Magnolias.” Located on the Cane River, shopping and dining in the city’s historic downtown is truly an experience that I never tire of. In fact, my daughter and I have made a Christmas shopping trip here for the past few years, and we plan to continue this tradition. Eating fried green tomatoes and Natchitoches meat pies has become an annual must-do for us!

One of my husband’s favorite shops is the Kaffie Frederick General Mercantile, which is touted as Louisiana’s oldest general store. It was in this store where I made my discovery.

As we meandered through its many aisles, I found myself looking up when we reached the back section of the store. Much to my surprise, I saw an opening in the ceiling with a sign explaining how “skylights” were original to the architecture and provided helpful lighting when there was no electricity.

I had toured this store many times and never noticed either the skylight or the sign. And I’ve been intrigued ever since, wondering how I could have missed this unique building feature during our previous visits — something that had always been there and yet I had never noticed.

I reasoned that because the store always has so much interesting merchandise to capture my gaze, I simply never had the inclination to look up.

It occurred to me that this is not that unusual. Whether in regard to shops, relationships or our jobs, many times in our lives, so much is placed in front of us — crowding or overwhelming our point of view — that it is sometimes difficult to see everything that is going on all around us.

Since my newest goals include to slow down, to make moments matter and to be open for new adventures and experiences, I’ve found that I’m not so conscious of the things that used to consume my attention. Consequently, this may be why I discovered the general store’s skylights during this visit — along with many other town features I had never noticed before, I might add.

For some reason I find myself thinking about a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The desire to further understand the idea of being “born again” has caused me to ponder the experience of a newborn babe. A baby enters the world without preconceptions. She is curious and alert to everything and everyone. She is eager to learn about and understand everything around her. She is receptive and inquisitive.

This seems to describe a helpful perspective for those on their spiritual journey — a perspective that would surely help them discover and understand their own spirituality. And I think it also describes a good disposition to be had in every aspect of one’s life.

Imagine approaching each day like a baby. Each day would be filled with new lessons to be learned, and you would be excited to learn each one. You would see life as filled with many insights and treasures waiting to be discovered. And you would welcome each day with joy-filled confidence and faith.

My hope is to approach each day with such childlike anticipation — always looking for and expecting to discover and learn something new. And again and again, the old would be made new.