I enjoy this photograph for a couple of reasons. It’s easy to see this was a beautiful sunset. I took this photo about 9:45pm this week, and twilight lingered for almost another hour. When I finally to bed at 11:00pm I swear I saw hints of blue still hugging the horizon. This was armchair beauty. I didn’t have to work to see it; it came to me as I sat looking out from my bedroom window. But the other reason I like this captured moment is because of the houses in the foreground. They remind me that even in the face of majestic beauty, life goes on ahead. You can almost peek in some of the homes’ windows, and in one of the windows there is even the unmistakeable blue glare of a television screen. They are probably watching Kiwi Jeopardy…..’This New Zealand rugby team is the best in the world….What are the All Blacks, Graham?’
I’ve been noticing something since I returned from America about two weeks ago. I felt it on my drive from the airport to the hospital the very day I arrived back in Dunedin. My eyes were different. I was not seeing the lush green hills, dotted with white sheep, for the first time. I had, in fact, driven past those same hills dozens of times before, but on my way back from the airport I was focused on getting to the hospital to get some work done and I ignored their beauty. Well, not ignored, since that would imply I saw the beauty and then ignored it. No, I simply didn’t appreciate the beauty in front of me. The weekend that followed I went to Gore, and there it was easy for me to appreciate the beauty of the forest and rivers since I hadn’t been there before. But again, on my way back to Dunedin, I think I forget to savor the familiar road.
Last night the setting sun was reflected off far away clouds in the Eastern sky. It was like Picasso painted the sky. The colors changed quickly from yellow to pink and then back to yellow again. The reflection was bright and luminescent one minute, and then a low hanging cloud bank would blow through the sky and the clouds would be gray.
I could have easily missed the show in the sky. There was no announcement about the spectacle, and had I been reading, writing or watching a movie, it would have all happened just the same….but I would have missed it. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe there is so much beauty in the world we don’t appreciate what’s right there in front of us.
Today, I looked for beauty, and discovered it in places I hadn’t expected. In the elevator today a woman wheeled in her baby carriage. The little girl was about 6 months old, and she looked around at all the passengers in the elevator. An elderly woman was near her, and the two exchanged glances. They both smiled. You can’t help yourself, seeing those massive bright young eyes. I’m sure the elderly woman was going in to see a loved one who is ill in the hospital, probably her husband. But a baby’s smile put a smile on her face, and it was beautiful thing. Later in day I was walking down the hall towards my office, and I passed a woman walking with a cane. She was young, to be walking with a cane, and I recognized the gait as someone who had recently had a stroke. Her walk was tentative, but determined. You could see it in her eyes, the concentration and effort required to take each step. I watched her for a moment as she walked the length of the hall. She turned around and walked back towards me. Her brow was furrowed, deep in concentration and determination. And she seemed to get better with each step. As she neared me, I nodded with approval at her efforts. “Good work.” I offered. She smiled. She didn’t want pity….or help. It was easy to see this was fiercely determined woman, and by God if it was possible for her to get her strength back, so was going to do just that. It was a beautiful thing. The human spirit.
There is a lot of beauty around. Take a moment and look.
See, no fish stories this week……