- in my meditation garden -
Yesterday my wife and I made our way over to the annual La Quinta Arts Festival held in a beautiful desert garden park just miles away from our home. Hundreds of artists from all over the country exhibit their work in an outdoor venue landscaped with exotic desert plants, flowering trees and flowing fountains – it looks a bit like paradise. The festival is purported to be the #1 outdoor art festival in the entire nation and I feel so blessed that it goes on in our own back yard.
As we walked among the exhibits yesterday we were constantly immersed in a sea of “Beauty”- beautiful paintings, stunning sculptures and photographic art, exquisitely crafted pottery and intricately woven fabric - all displayed within a lush, exotic outdoor venue. I watched with delight as people would enter booth after booth and just marvel at the artistry, sometimes unable to say anything except, “wow” – “wow” what a gorgeous photograph, such a beautiful sculpture.
Yesterday, as we ended our visit to the festival, I suddenly became aware of something that was happening to me. I was feeling as if I had been cleansed. Something in me had been washed clean and refreshed - even my body was feeling lighter and healthier.
I suddenly realized what had happened- I had gone through a spiritual detox by experiencing all that beauty.
Over the past weeks and months most of us in this country have become slowly poisoned by the content of so much constant and vile bad news. We have been barraged with 24 hours of “Breaking News,” an endless series of Facebook posts and Twitter feeds reporting on and venting about all the nasty, ugly speech in this presidential election season. The airwaves have been filled with stories about gun violence, terrorism, and fearful predictions that we are on the verge of fascism in America.
The other day I heard someone say, “We have all been touched by the finger of pollution.” So, it’s no wonder that we might all feel somewhat sickened when the spiritual climate in which we live is so toxic nowadays. Our minds, our spirits and even our bodies feel the effects of all the poison and most of the time we don’t even know what’s happening to us as we gradually sink deeper and deeper into the muck.
Yesterday when I underwent that time of spiritual cleaning, I became very aware of the importance of regular detoxification in these times of so much spiritual pollution.
I don’t plan on throwing away my TV or severing my connection to the internet, but I also realize that I don’t need to constantly expose myself to and regularly “ingest” all the constant barrage of all the endless, vile and ugly stories served up every day - I need to detoxify.
I also need to intentionally “take in” as much beauty as I can as an antidote to all the poison- a lot more reading of beautiful poetry, looking at beautiful art, listening to beautiful music, deeply breathing in the beauty of the desert in springtime.
The poet, John O’Donohue, once said:
The word for beautiful comes from the Greek word ‘to call.’
When we experience beauty we feel called.
The Beautiful stirs passion and urgency in us
and calls us forth from aloneness.
It unites us again with the neglected and forgotten grandeur of life.
Beauty elicits a sense of completion is us.
It seems to me that we all need to hear the call of the “Beautiful” in these rather ugly times.
I am also reminded of one of my very favorite Zen sayings:
I play with flowers and their fragrance clings to my clothes.
If every day all we ever do is sit in heaps of garbage, we’ll surely become sickened by the smell, but if we play with the flowers life has to offer, their fragrance clings to us and makes us well.