Several years ago I took time out to walk a significant amount of the Appalachian Trail. It was an interesting experience in many ways. Somewhere along the way, where the Trail crosses from Tennessee into North Carolina, there is a high mountain with 360 degree views that the trail map designates as “Beauty Spot.” And a beauty it is! I spent a couple of hours there under a bright blue sky, letting the sun warm my body and dry out equipment from the soaking rain of the previous night. My mind’s eye still captures the memory of Beauty Spot and the restful time spent there leaning against my pack and enjoying a late morning breakfast.
There is a Navaho prayer that reads:
May I walk with Beauty before me.
May I walk with Beauty behind me.
May I walk with Beauty above me.
May I walk with Beauty below me.
May I walk with Beauty all around me.
As I walk the Beauty way.
Not a bad prayer to say at the beginning of each day. It could be a reminder that there are beauty spots all around us, and that beauty is not limited to mountain tops or stunning views of nature on a bright day. It’s all about cultivating the eye to see the beauty around us.
I believe that whatever pulls us toward fullness of life is beauty. When we despair and feel that we have reached the end of our rope, whatever calls to us to open again to the possibility of love and laughter is beauty.
A hand gently laid on your shoulder, the face of a child, sunsets and sunrises…these are experiences of beauty. But beauty comes in other guises. Tears, sadness, the empathetic pain we feel for another person’s distress…these too are beauty. Even when something we are involved with is hard and when the truth we are confronting is not pretty, we can still be embraced by beauty as we are being drawn to the fullness of life. I learned a song at Jubilee! that has these lines:
We’re part of it all in our sorrow
We’re part of it all in our bliss.
We’re part of the rain and part of the sun;
It’s all God’s holy kiss.
Let us sing of the beauty around us,
Let us sing of the beauty within,
O hear the earth tell, that all shall be well,
Anam Cara, Anam Cara, Soul Friend.
Rain and sun, sorrow and bliss. Whatever makes us alive, causes us to feel, really feel, in the depth of our bones, makes us ache, and hope, and laugh and love…that’s Beauty. And the good news is that it is all around us and in every moment. As the Navaho prayer reminds us, we are walking the Beauty Way. It is called: “Your Life.”