“It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along the trail where others had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries and brown fern and had laid it on the path: 'nothing special,' as Buddhists would say, meaning 'everything.' Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral.
All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.”
Mary Rose O'Reilley (The Barn at the End of the World)
Most of us see beauty in extraordinary things—a painting by a master, a bouquet of fresh roses, a landscape of blue mountains covered in mist. We notice the grander offerings of earth and sky. Some friends of mine just posted photos on Facebook of an Aegean sunset from a Greek isle—gorgeous. But if we wait for exceptional moments to find beauty, our encounters will be few and far between.
For the ordinary mystic, beauty can be found anywhere. There are good reasons to look for it; beauty energizes us. It perks us up. It activates our feel-good chemistry. Just the sight of a beautiful flower, or bird, or sunset connects us with all of creation. But beauty isn't found only in the extraordinary. It surrounds us all the time if we have eyes to see, ears to hear.
I love this story of the dried bouquet left on the path for the next passer-by to find. What a gift! Not just the bouquet, but also the teaching that beauty is found by looking at the world as it is—a feast of being. We don't have to wait for exceptional moments, we can find beauty in the neutral shades of everyday. We may have to take our eyes off our screens to see it. Today, try putting your phone in your pocket and looking with your eyes at what you are passing by. Listen to Andrea Bocelli sing Ava Maria. Let beauty wash over you and bless you with its joy. Here's a beautiful little poem to get you started:
“I will soothe you and heal you,
I will bring you roses.
I too have been covered with thorns.”
It's nothing special—just everything.
In the Spirit,