There is immense beauty in the world, if one understands the true nature of beauty. The dawn of a new year, always harbors the hope and promise of all that is to come. Awaiting all of creation, however, is that which lies ahead. Early this week, piles of dirty snow littered the landscape, and there was mud everywhere. Today, the sky is gray, and winter still looms with its harshness and fury. The sky is silent, except for the occasional mournful song of a lonely crow who searches for the answer to its desperate plea– is there anyone else out there? Our brothers and sisters, the trees, stand motionless and naked in their grief with their arms stretched towards the sky, awaiting the gentle touch of the sun to breath life in them again. We may ask ourselves, “where is the beauty?”
We who live in the purgatory between that which is gone and that which returns, may occasionally forget the beauty of renewal. When a child is born, all of our hopes exist in all that the child can be. In all new life, there is hope and redemption. We realize, in those moments, as we look into the eyes of a baby, that everything that had been lost before, the sacrifices of countless generations who lived, dreamed, and died to culminate in this one tender life, immediately are bestowed with meaning and purpose. We may even briefly glimpse our own mortality, and recognize our significance. All life is significant. Everything came before.
When I look out at what at first appears to be a bleak landscape, I see something beautiful. I don’t see a dead world. I see a world about to be reborn in all of its splendor. Today’s storm once again coats the world with a clean white blanket. Beneath that blanket, however, so much hope abounds. As the sun slowly caresses the earth with its warmth over the next few months, life beneath snow will stir in the soil. Bacteria, fungi, arthropods, and nematodes, each a miracle of life and therefore possessed of inherent beauty, will awaken to convert the organic matter and minerals that are in the soil to food that will be used by plants. The plants will feed the world above and below with help from the sun.
The blossoms of spring, the chorus of songbirds, and the babies of all of the animal kingdom will soon follow. It is then that the world will respond to the lonely cry of the crow, announcing in unison that, “you are not alone!” It’s all there for us to see, if we allow ourselves to be free of temporal limitations. Someday, in the the not-to-distant future, the sun will set, casting amber hues over a world filled with honey created from millions of bees that patiently collected tiny grains of pollen from the flowers in the meadows. A deer crossing one of those meadows will patiently wait for her fawn, born only weeks earlier, and the crickets will sing lullabies to the creatures of the day while the phantoms of the night arise to be greeted by the summer moon. All of that beauty is found in the hope and potential that exists and lies dormant just a few inches beneath the frozen earth. Lying just beyond our vision, we can glimpse beauty if we allow ourselves to see such miracles in the world around us