Saturday, March 8, 2014

Beauty

-in my meditation garden-

Every morning I wake up, walk outside my door into my meditation garden, and I am immersed in "Beauty." The sights, the sounds, the fragrances - such an abundance of riches that, at times, I fear I take it all too much for granted.

Yesterday, I had a "flash of insight" about the nature of "Beauty."  It reminded me to be ever careful not to take "Beauty" for granted. This morning, I am reflecting on that insight.

Yesterday my wife and I made our way over to the annual La Quinta Arts Festival. It is held in a beautiful park landscaped with exotic desert plants, flowering trees and flowing fountains - only a few short miles from our house. Purportedly it is the #1 outdoor art festival in the entire nation, and I can see why.  

Hundreds of artists come here from all across the country to display and sell their works- paintings and sculptures, statues and photographs all spread out in that lush exotic setting, pan flute music wafting through the air as folks browse around. 

As we walked along from artist to artist, sometimes engaging them about their various work, I began to notice something.  At times, various people would stop and look at someone's work and comment about how "nice" it was. I even heard a couple "that's so cute" comments.  

At other times people would stop and basically "analyze" the work being displayed - chat about the colors or the shapes or the designs.

But every once in a while there would be something that would just stop people "dead in their tracks" because it was so "Beautiful." And when that happened the only response was "wow" or just a reverential silence. 

There was one particular photographic artist that seemed to be getting a lot of those "wow" responses. His photographs were from various "Beautiful"places all over the world - the flowing hills of Tuscany, the Greek Isles with villages all in white up against "wine dark" seas, monasteries set high up in the mountains and touching the heavens, the High Desert terrain with its stunning rock formations and majestic Joshua trees. Some of the photographs were taken at dawn, others at sunset. 

Each of the photographs just seemed to capture something "essential," something that you just couldn't put into words - something so "Beautiful" that all you could do was to stand there and look and say "wow" or maybe say nothing at all. 

Author and Poet John O'Donohue once said:

We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. Beauty elicits a sense of completion in us. 

Without any of  the usual calculation, we can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.

There is a story in the Hebrew scriptures about Moses in the wilderness on the way to the "Promised Land." He climbs up a high mountain to search for "God" and asks for guidance because he does not know the way in the wilderness. 

When he gets to the mountaintop, Moses is greeted by a fiery burning bush. It is the Presence of the Holy One, all aflame with the energy of love. Moses is so awed by the "Beauty"of that Holy Presence that he tries to find a word to name it and when he asks for a name, a voice calls out: "Yahweh." 

Some may hear the story and think that "God" was telling Moses his name, and that the name of God is Yahweh. 

Actually there is no good translation for the Hebrew word, "Yahweh," because it isn't really a word or a name. But I once heard a rabbi say that the best translation of "Yahweh" might actually be the exclamation, "Wow!" 

Standing in the fiery glow of the "Beautiful," in the glow of the "Holy Presence, Moses is speechless. He has no words to contain or describe that moment and so all he can do is take off his shoes, lift up his hands and cry out WOW! 

Yesterday I had a flash of insight about the nature of "Beauty." Another name for "Beauty" is "God."

WOW!






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