With full awareness of all that is ugly in the world, I am obsessing about beauty. I don’t believe these thoughts represent escapism so much as astonishment. A lesson that has unfolded for me over the past year is that nothing in this world is to be taken for granted. And so I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart open and when I do this the beauty of life nearly overwhelms me, as does the impulse to experience, create, and extend this beauty, which represents Love.
We just spent a week in Central Oregon with Vic’s sister, Louise, and her husband, Carl. They live in nearby Salem and often travel to the Three Sisters area to hike. The Sisters are three of the volcanic peaks that dot the Oregon landscape, reminders of the destructive/creative forces of the universe. Rising snow-topped from the high desert, with rough lava crumbled at their feet even though the last big spew in this area was 7,000 years ago, the peaks are extravagantly beautiful.
Carl and Louise, who, like us, lived much of their lives in more modest scenery, are still a bit awestruck that, decades ago, their professional callings took them to the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Walking in beauty has shaped their lives. We walked with them for a week and were blessed. (My knees held up. Yay!)
Beauty can seem like an extravagance but I’ve noticed how it creeps into my decisions and how decisions based on beauty are never wrong. Our purchase of the beautiful little house in the Michigan woods in 1995, as a second home, seemed like an outrageous extravagance but that place fed our souls and the souls of our family and friends for more than 20 years.
We left it last March for beauty of a different kind–urban, historic, neighborly. The move to the Pink Lady was inspired directly by the growing ugliness on the political landscape: not an either/or but a both/and: in order to survive and find our way through these times, we need to walk in, draw upon, and create beauty, including more loving relationships than we were finding in the isolation of the woods home.
I was reminded of this over the weekend as we hosted our daughter’s family, including her husband’s parents, in the Pink Lady’s spacious rooms and this friendly city. It was a sweet time, centered, of course, on the two young lovelies we share. The eyes of grandparents are beauty-struck.
I am pondering another big decision that seems to my practical mind like a huge extravagance. We met with our designer last Friday and she laid out plans for a breathtaking garden on the large, ungainly lot inhabited by the Pink Lady. Beth pulled up photo after photo of the plants, shrubs, and trees she envisions for our space, showing us drawings of theme-areas and paths winding under what are now tall, scrubby trees.
For me it was love at first sight. My husband’s response time is a little slower, especially since it will cost a lot of money–we have a lot of space to fill with a lot of plants. Are we ready to do this?
Beauty is calling again, loud and clear. Can we afford to respond? Can we afford not to?