Friday, July 9, 2010

The case for Beauty

I have been on a short summertime hiatus, busy painting, planning and plotting all manner of creativity. My most important goal has been to get myself out the door and into my garden a whole lot more this Middle Earth Summer. Early mornings are my favorite time to grab my over sized coffee mug and wander out into the yard in my pajamas and flip flops. I find a cozy corner with a pillowed chair and a small soft blanket to ward off any small chill. I leave my books and paints behind me . I want to hear Dawn coming once again. The sun seems to come up slowly in Middle Earth. My memory of the Southwest is a very fast paced sunrise, perhaps because the sun was often popping up over a mountain rather than the edge of the earth. I like the slow Dawn.

I set my chair facing this corner. As the sun comes up a faint steam rises from the fence as a kind of dramatic precursor to the sun itself. Then I get this scene, slightly out of focus in reality because of the mist rising from the grass. The birdsong adds a touch of opera . It is all very theatrical and it happens almost every morning. A private performance, just for me. Sometimes I think God visits this little corner like I peek at my own paintings and say they are good.
I am reading a book called "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge that presents the case for Beauty being a spiritual blessing, a gift of comfort, inspiration and nourishment. They support their case by citing the beauty of nature, creation itself. I have to agree with my whole heart for many, many times when life has thrown me a curve ball, getting out into nature has saved my soul and sanity whether it was hiking Zion National Park or wandering Yosemite, two of my favorite wells of natural beauty, I have always felt a very deep sense of invitation and comfort from the beauty of nature.
So this year I planted a tiny garden. I was quite carried away when I went out to buy the seedlings and bought too many, so some live in their own pots besides the plant bed. I made some very eclectic choices. Lemon Verbena and Rosemary for scent...I pop off a leaf or two and rub them between my fingers and sigh with the pleasure of it all. I planted peppers,half of which perished, cucumbers, all prickly to ward of the local furries, three kinds of tomatoes and zucchini to make enough bread to take us through Autumn with breakfast smiles. To compliment the kitchen, I planted basil, parsley and oregano which loved their new home and are rewarding me with scent and flavor. This tiny garden, besides providing physical nourishment, blesses me with Beauty and a joy I cannot describe, but fills my heart up so full it bursts me into a smile of pure peace and contentment. My gratitude for this gift of God is literally boundless.
I will go back to the studio and make some eye candy for you very soon, but I have to grate some zucchini and slice a few cucumbers right now. Then in the cool of the evening perhaps I will take out my drawing board and pencils and capture some of this lush Middle Earth beauty to see me through the winter.
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