by Elizabeth Venart
The wonder of the Beautiful is its ability to surprise us. With swift, sheer grace, it is like a divine breath that blows the heart open. – John O’Donohue in Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace
When the world of man closed its doors in March last year, the natural world invited us outside to connect and play. Through gardening and time spent in local parks and our own backyard, we found in nature a natural balm to the weariness of an intense and fear-filled time. Nature can be a welcome antidote to stress and boredom. It provides an alternative to the rowing machines and well-worn tracks of the gym. It can also offer us something that stretches far beyond simple diversion or exercise. A walk in nature can be an immersive experience, calming our nervous system and shifting our perspective.
When we allow ourselves to inhabit fully the landscape of the present moment, we can delight in the magic of the changing seasons, marvel at the miracle of flowers rising through asphalt, and consider with humility our place among the living things on this planet. Our world as people may have ground to a halt in many ways, but the rest of the natural world continued. I watched how the birds outside my kitchen window built nests, as they do each year, fed their babies, plucked worms and seeds from the ground. I delighted in the birdsong each morning, the brilliant colors of fall, the snow bathing tree limbs with pearl luminescence.
Life always has its challenges. Beauty is always there when our eyes are ready to experience her. A child’s laugh, a cloud-speckled sky, a mother fox and her five babies, a warm embrace from a friend we haven’t seen in too long.
As the wheel of the year continued to move in its circular rhythm through the seasons, my fond anticipation of the daily walk only strengthened. “I wonder how that cherry tree will look today. . . Will the rhododendron bushes have loosened their tight buds and exploded into pink today?” Bringing a sense of wonder to my daily walks (or wanders when I had more time) imbued my days with delight.
The newsletter this month – and our social media – will focus on Beauty. I will be sharing photographs taken during my daily walks over the past year. You will see what my eyes saw, as I walked through my neighborhood delighting in the unfolding beauty of each season. These images are moments that captured my attention, fascinated and moved me. While some are blossoms and a glimpse of a flower at the peak of its brilliance, others include transition points between the seasons, moments of awe, and the beauty of growth and decay intermingled.
As John O’Donohue so beautifully expresses in Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace:
The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instances; it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.
My wish for each of you is the eye to “glimpse beauty anywhere” and to savor and delight in this experience.
Elizabeth Venart is the Founder and the Director of The Resiliency Center and a Licensed Professional Counselor whose practice focuses on supporting Highly Sensitive Persons, therapists (through counseling and consultation), and creative and intuitive people seeking more magic in their lives. She leads a weekly laughter yoga class and hosts a monthly Rumi and Friends Spiritual Poetry Evening to which all are welcome. To learn more, visit her website.