31 Days in which I Am Saved by Beauty – Day 10

I’ve been thinking a lot about contrasts lately.
Light and dark,
small and large,
near and far.
And about how so many of those things that we 
tend to put into opposition to one another
are not all that opposed after all. 
Both things are true,
both sides are instructive,
both realities are beautiful,
each in their own way.
Last summer, I spent two weeks 
looking at this view.
Here is the view on a sunny day –
with all the colors popping,
the architectural details sharp,
easy to follow,
the palm trees leading your eye out to the horizon.
If you look closely at the wing of the building
that was just outside my window,
you can see that the right side of the roof
looks a slightly different color from the left.
It doesn’t seem dramatic, does it?
Now – here are some similar views,
taken on a foggy morning.
The colors blend a bit more,
nothing stands out,
even the lines of the building
are fuzzier, the trees
fade away into the fog.
There is no horizon to be found.
In the cool of that foggy morning,
I began to see that the two sides
of that roof were quite different from one another.
I am facing due south in this picture,
so the westside of the building is the darker one.
I was intrigued by this and began to draw in
a little bit closer.
The fog was beginning to lift as
I screwed on the telephoto lens,
and this is what I began to see.

An astounding display of lichen,
moss, multi-colored plant life,
clinging like crazy-colored barnacles
to the terra cotta tiles

I found them stunningly beautiful,
especially in contrast to the rich red
of the roof; I was
fascinated by
these green and gray polka dots,
scrambling wildly down the rows.

I would not have seen them at all
if the fog had not rolled in,
forcing me
to take my eye off 
the horizon, 
to stop taking the long view,
and instead, 
to pay attention
to what was right in front of my face.

I have spent much of my life searching
toward that horizon,
thinking and dreaming about
what was to come.
One of my major regrets 
is that I did not fully appreciate 
what was
right in front of my face
while I was living it.

I got better at it over time,
thank God.
But how I wish I had
celebrated the glory
of the single moment
just a bit more,
especially when my 
children were small
and I was tired all.the.time.

I take some comfort from the disciples.
They weren’t able to see what was 
right in front of them, either.
Yet even they,
with their stubbornness,
their denseness,
their projection of their
particular hopes and dreams,
hopes and dreams
that were so far from God’s best
as to be laughable at times –
even they got to see the other side. 

Jesus came to them,
in his new,
resurrected body,
and he stood before them,
greeted them gently,
offered them peace
and then sent them out 
to change the world.
The truth is, both sides, 
both views
are important.
The long view,
and the close-up one. 
And both views contain truth,
big truths – long-term goals,
aspirations, dreams –
and small truths –
the glories of
the immediate,
the blessings of now.

Somehow, I don’t think the world
can truly be changed
without some experience
of holding-both-sides-together. 
Because our world needs both:
the healing presence and comfort 
of the Jesus
who comes and cups our faces
and says, “Peace be with you,”
and the powerful creative energy
of the Cosmic Christ,
in “whom all things hold together,” 
who wants to make all things new,
including every one of us. 

So, even though I’m not a foggy weather
kind of person,
I will celebrate and appreciate
those days when they come.
In fact, I will seek them out,
looking always for
right in front of my face.

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  1. You chronicle beauty here, in your words and your images. The beauty of you bleeds right onto my screen.

  2. Glenda Childers says

    I love seeing things through the eye of your camera and your brain.

  3. Thanks so much for these oh-so-gracious words, Cheryl. You are so kind.

  4. Awww….thank you, Glenda. You say the nicest things. :>)

  5. Awww…thank you, Glenda. You are so kind.

  6. Thanks so much for these generous words, Cheryl. They brought tears to my eyes.

  7. You have an outstanding about of wisdom and observation here! Thank you for sharing about looking at Christ, right up close, and being able to look from afar

  8. Only you would see beauty in lichen.

    Also, I love that particular Jesus.