This week I’m reminded of an experience a friend recounted several years ago, after a fall visit to the prairies.
My friend wrote:
“After a restless night, I was frustrated, so I headed out the door for an early morning run down rough dirt farm roads. It was an astonishingly beautiful morning, the rising sun in the east, and the full moon still in the western sky.
“Endless flocks of geese flew overhead. One particular flock flew low into the sun, and the light caught their bellies and underwings and turned them a blazing silver colour.
“I also ran between huge, stinking piles of manure – not once, not twice, but four times. As I returned to my lodgings I wondered:
What am I going to believe in?
The silver-bellied geese or the stinking manure?”
“So many times I still wonder if the manure will win out,” wrote my friend.
“Will my cousin survive her debilitating disease with spirit intact?
Will I be able to do what I think I’m being called to do?
Will trust outlast fear?
“I know I’m not always going to make it to the top of the manure pile to see the silver-bellied geese fly by,” my friend concluded.
“But that moment reminds me to live in the paradox…
To take the risk of choosing beauty…
To walk through fear…
“To trust in God’s loving preservation deep down under…even on days when
I don’t quite believe it.
“Love is there… It’s waiting for me…for all of us.”
Yes indeed, I thought upon reading this once again. But some days it’s not easy.
Some days it’s not easy to walk through our fear, whatever that fear may be.
Some days it’s not easy to risk choosing beauty.
Some days it’s not easy to trust in God’s loving preservation deep down under.
Some days it’s easier to believe in the stinking manure pile, and to miss that gorgeous flock of silver-bellied geese.
It’s for this reason that I value the work of spiritual directors, poets and many others who invite us to pay attention, to notice the astonishing (or ordinary) beauty all around us, and to let that beauty nourish our souls. Perhaps sometimes that beauty even tips the balance.
Mary Oliver puts it this way in her poetry collection entitled Red Bird. A poem entitled “Sometimes” includes this stanza:
“Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.”
My friend and Mary Oliver help me risk choosing beauty. I enjoy sharing the beauty I find with you, my blog readers.
Questions for Reflection:
- What helps you risk choosing beauty? How do you share it with others?
- What helps you pay attention and be astonished?
Next week: TBA