It is without having to take a thought that I associate the natural world with beauty and awe. Of course, there are many manmade places and items of beauty as well, but the natural world is always there for us if we awaken to it. For the city dweller, it may just be a patch of sky, but that can be a powerful reminder of beauty in itself.
Nature brought me an experience of great beauty and awe last week. I was driving out of my quiet neighborhood one afternoon and stopped at the stop sign at the end of the street. As I glanced up the road to look for oncoming cars, I was startled to see three deer. They were standing at the end of a driveway about a hundred yards away and I noticed their impossibly long, thin legs. In 20 years of living in this neighborhood, I had only seen one other deer.
The deer were obviously as startled as I was and immediately began to run. But instead of prancing off into the nearby woods, the first deer ran directly down the street towards me. Within a flash, I was witnessing three deer running towards me. The lead deer swerved slightly to the right and then slightly to the left. I could just picture her mind thinking about possible escape routes, but she continued straight towards me and never veered until she was within feet of the car.
All three deer ran gracefully across the lawn directly in front of me before leaping a stone wall and darting in to the woods behind a house. Power and grace were obvious in every move they made. By the time the third one ran past me, I had calmed down enough to see how beautiful her coat was as well with a subtle pattern of colors that surprised me. I can still picture the entire scene in great detail and am humbled to have been given such an awe inspiring site.
I call moments in life like my few moments with the deer, golden moments. Golden moments are when suddenly you are reminded that all is well and you are filled with a sense of peace and joy. May you find pieces of great beauty – subtle or obvious – in your life today. And then may you hold them to your heart with a sense of the wonder of our world. May you notice the golden moments that occur every day of your life.
BEAUTY AND AWE
There has been so much written about beauty that I hesitate to even broach the subject. But one of the seven virtues of character that we have not
addressed yet is Transcendence. And “appreciation of beauty and excellence (awe, wonder, elevation)” is one of the signature strengths that lead to Transcendence.
At this time of year, it is easy to look around and revel in Nature’s beauty. Spring pulls out all the stops, and as you meander around your yard, your neighborhood, your community, you will likely see the season’s labors at the continuation of the species and how beautifully these efforts grab your attention. Georgia O’Keefe knew it: look closely at anything created by Nature and you will be elated by the intricate, interdependent beauty.
Beauty that relates to how seeds are spread, eggs are hatched, and babies are nurtured. Beauty that transcends the everyday – even though it IS an everyday occurrence – and reaches into the depths of mystery, transporting you on a journey of awe and wonder. Beauty that causes children and adults, scientists and poets to ask: “How? Why?” Beauty that challenges us to explore why the blue jay’s feathers have the same colors and markings generation after generation. Beauty that takes our breath away when we see thousands of monarch butterflies migrating hundreds of miles to the same location to breed. Beauty that we want to understand and hold in our hearts.
That’s where the wonder and awe come in. While we are beginning to understand quantum physics, we have yet to be able to understand the life force that energizes the natural world around us. You can’t replicate it, define it, or quantify it. You can only wonder at it. You can only be in awe of how our earth continues its travels year in and year out, following the same path at the same angle, causing the same seasons that bring us exquisite beauty. Sure, you understand that the earth is in an orbit and that the orbit and rotation and revolving and angle, etc. cause predictable seasons, day and night, light and dark. But just because something is predictable doesn’t make it any less wondrous.
Caterpillars become butterflies: you know this, but you can still be amazed by it and use this example as a universal archetype of transformation. Human babies predictably are born nine months after conception. Knowing the timetable doesn’t make the birth any less miraculous… or consider the fact that the baby looks like both her mother and father at the same time. Talk about beauty!
When it comes to beauty, the sky – literally – is the limit. Whether it is the phases of the moon, the movement of the planets, the stars you can see from your backyard, or the galaxies you can only see through Hubble, the sky’s beauty and expansiveness is humbling. The wonder and awe is transcending: you can go far beyond your physical body when you consider the distance the starlight has traveled so you can see it at that precise moment.
Each of us has had our own defining moments of awe as a result of the beauty that surrounds us. You also have the challenges of everyday life that often distract you from that beauty. Recognizing and being thankful for beauty each day can help you leave behind the mundane worries of life, bringing you joy and even more awareness of beauty and blessings.
What beauty speaks to you? Is it the beauty of a flower, its scent, the hum of the bee sipping its nectar, or the taste of the honey that bee creates? “Take time to smell the roses” is an age-old adage that speaks to a proverbial truth. Indulging your senses with beauty does transport you and enable you to escape the mundane.
Consider challenging yourself and your family to consciously notice the beauty you encounter each day. This can be a way to get to know your family – and yourself – better: how your perceptions are the same, and how they are different. The beauty in your diversity may be, well, awesome.
What have been moments in your life that have filled you with awe about something beautiful?
How can you find more beauty in your life regardless of your circumstances?
What will remind you to slow down in order to look more carefully for beauty?
Between Peace and Joy
~From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
We could never have guessed
We were already blessed
where we are…
This reminds me of a woman who found a folded sponge all dried and compressed, and tucked inside the hardened fold was a message she’d been seeking. She carried the hardened sponge to the sea and, up to her waist in the deep, she watched it unfold and come to life in the water. Magically, the secret of life became visible in the bubbles being released from the sponge, and to her amazement, a small fish, trapped in sleep in the hardened sponge, came alive and swam out to sea. From that day on, no matter where she went, she felt the little fish swimming in the deep, and this – the swimming of the little fish that had for so long been asleep – gave her a satisfaction that was somewhere between peace and joy.
Whatever our path, whatever the color or grain of our days, whatever riddles we must solve to stay alive, the secret of life somehow always has to do with the awakening and freeing of what has been asleep. Like that sponge, our very heart begs to unfold in the waters of our experience, and like that little fish, the soul is a tiny thing that brings us peace and joy when we let it swim.
But everything remains hard and compressed and illegible until, like this woman, waist deep in the ocean, we take our sleeping heart in our hands and plunge it tenderly into the life we are living.
INDIVIDUAL COACHING BY PHONE
Want to stop that feeling that life is passing you by?
Would you like to able to experience your life as an exciting series of adventures?
Would you like to feel more joy and achieve more success?
That is what I help my clients develop in their own lives. Working with a coach helps you overcome the challenges that can keep you from a successful life. Coaching gives you a companion on the journey; someone with whom to discuss events as they unfold and to help you move toward joy in the adventure. Developing clear goals, focusing intently and staying committed become possible.
If you aren’t sure and would like to explore whether coaching is right for you, please send an email to Janet@lifeadventurecoaching.com or call me at 828-691-4655 for a complimentary consultation.