31 Days in which I Am Saved by Beauty – Day 25

This has been a physically and emotionally taxing week.
I spent 7 hours on Monday and 7 hours on Tuesday,
in a very nice, but very small car with two friends,
driving up and down this state. 

While I was away from home,
a personal post of mine, written for another site,
showed up at the same time as
a post with a different point of view
was playing right next door –
on the same site. 

The discussion that ensued online
was rich, but often difficult
and sometimes very painful
on several counts. 

While I sometimes agreed with
the position being argued by the more strident
voices, I was strongly against the tone of
those arguments and wondered if we could
learn to talk civilly about it – ever. 
Today, for some reason, I feel less hopeful about that
than I did two days ago. 

I’m not sure why.

Maybe because I’ve got a lousy cold.
Maybe because my husband flew to Chicago
for two days of meetings this morning.
Maybe because someone I love is ill. 
Maybe because as I sat at the beach today,
puzzled by the presence of FOUR Highway Patrol vehicles,
I was stunned to see a coroner’s van pull up,
and watched in shock and dismay
as the body of a man about my age
was forcibly pulled out of his small Honda CR-V.
I prayed for him and his family as I watched.
And I wondered how he selected the wording
of his license plate, which read MESA LVR.*
He had blonde/white hair and nice-looking slacks,
and he apparently died while sitting in his car,
admiring the view. 
I suppose there are worse ways to die,
but still. It was sobering.

So, for whatever reason, I find myself feeling 
pensive tonight.

While in this lack-luster mood,
I flashed through a few of the photographs
I took out the window of that small car on Tuesday.
I shot these pictures through the windshield
as we drove back home, into the setting sun,
following a blustery rainstorm the previous day. 

And as I looked at them, I was reminded again
that beauty stirs my soul like nothing else.
I was also reminded that even a difficult, painful week
can be at least partially redeemed by
the beauty of the ordinary,
the everyday glory of
the sky, the hills,
the vineyards, the trees, 
the beauty around me.

So — for today, for tonight, 
here are some reminders —
for me and for you —
of found beauty,
even in the middle of
of tough and tiring times.
Except for the pictures of fall color (which were taken at an In ‘n’ Out, where we took a bathroom and cold drink break), all of these pictures were shot through the front or side window of a Volvo sedan going about 70mph. And they leave me speechless tonight. Thank you, Lord, for glimpses of glory all along the way. 

*The Mesa is a Santa Barbara neighborhood across town, situated on the bluffs overlooking the harbor.

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  1. Diana, what a beautiful piece, written in and through the tough times. I admire that.

    I am especially drawn in by your words around what happened a few days ago. I want to keep hoping we can find a place for gracious, or maybe grace-filled, dialogue in this world …

    Thank you so much for speaking from your empowered truth. I’m so thankful there isn’t a box for you.

  2. Idelette – thank you so much for these beautiful words. They (and you) make me cry with gratitude. I am so tired of the ugly edge to so many words. And yet, I get it. I, too, am tired of having to explain or defend who I am, who God has formed me to be. So I choose story and that’s where I’ll stay. But there are those moments when I am tempted to jump into the fray with a sharper edge – and that actually makes me very sad. I SO do not want to go there, ever again. Does that make any sense??

  3. Lovely, lovely post, Diana. Those of us who love you and Emily were grieved, as well. It’s one thing to be the gracious recipients of the ungracious, as you and Emily were so beautifully, but it still hurts…and I hurt for both of you. I’m just so proud to call both of you my sisters. Much love, Patricia

  4. Oh Diana, what is with this crazy week? I, too, have been overwhelmed by the circumstances of my last five days but, just as you penned, despite the ugly, the painful, the unexplainable…the beauty continues to drip right round. Who are we that God is so mindful? It is all gift. All of it. Thank you for the beautiful pictures. They so humbly speak to the glory of creation. You are a gift, my friend. Praying for peace that passes understanding for you and yours this weekend.

  5. Your series on beauty has been breaking though some of the dark and dry places, letting in light and much needed holy water. And the grace you spoke to that whole conversation gave me encouragement on an evening when I, like so many others, simply turned off the internet as it was all too much.

    Thank you and praying for your days ahead

  6. Thank you, Patricia, for your ongoing encouragement. You give me hope. And that’s quite a gift – on every level I can think of – for me, but most especially, in you.

  7. I do believe God is up to something – with the best parts of myself, I believe that. But when I sink into the discouragement, it gets tougher to hang onto that belief. So I give thanks for beauty and God’s hand in making it so prolific in this world, because for me, that is often the only way up and out of the slough of despond.

  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me that, Brenna. Yesterday was one of those days when I really wondered what the heck I’m doing out here. I am grateful to discover that God has used this space to break through with light in your life. I thank you for your words and for your prayers.

  9. I love your clouds!

    So sad about the man.

    There is a lack of civility these days, and it’s in every sphere. I haven’t read any of the conflict you are referring to because I have enough conflict in my own home. But I know that one reason I want to be able to go to Deidra’s retreat is because you’ll be the pastor, serving Communion. I want that. Short of losing my job, I don’t think I can.

  10. WOW, your pictures are breathtaking! I LOVE nature shots, and those really show the beautiful creative side of our God. Thanks for sharing these with us

  11. Oh Diana, I love your humility and your giant “late (quite late, actually) middle-aged, female, retired-part-time-pastor-learning-to-be-a-spiritual-director with a family she adores and an increasingly urgent call to write-her-life-down” pool of story!

    I learn so much from your stories and celebration of beauty, friend.


  12. Your picture are breathtaking…just gorgeous…so sorry for all the backlash…but again…how you and emily handle all this is beauty among some very ugly …but beauty is brighter than ugly…Love always shines brighter than hate…and you all just shined out brightly. praying for both of you…that He will restore your souls…heal any wounds…and what the enemy meant for harm…He will be faithful to redeem…blessings to you…and I pray for a wonderful weekend for you~

  13. Thanks, Megan. And there wasn’t really a ton of conflict – just enough to make me ponder a bit. I think maybe the conflict is in me as I read – and it’s a 2-way conflict. The strident voices – who often speak things I believe – use tactics I’m tired of and the voices speaking things I don’t believe are often (not always) misquoting scripture or cherrypicking ideas, making me want to argue back. But I have committed to stepping away from argument and standing strongly in story as the only means available to me to even enter the discussion. So I feel personally torn – it’s an inner conflict as much as anything.

  14. Thanks for coming by and looking – and then taking the time to comment, too. :>)

  15. Thank you, Tina. Always makes me smile to see your name here.

  16. Thanks, Ro. And yes, beauty does shine through the ugly and for that I am always grateful. And I thank you for your prayers and good words – those things help.

  17. Linda Chontos says

    Such beautiful pictures Diana – and from the car!!!
    I’ve been concerned about both you and Emily. It is so difficult when we speak from our hearts and find we are not understood.

    Please know how much I honor you and the gift the Father has given you. I honor your obedience to the call on your life and most especially the way I’ve seen you live it out as you minister so selflessly to others. There can be no doubt you are just exactly where He wants you to be.

    Praying you feel better soon and that His peace and presence will fill your heart. He loves you so dearly.

  18. Thank you, Linda – for these kind words and for your thoughts and prayers. I am grateful.

  19. You have a gift. How in the world you captured beauty at 70 mph with no blur amazes me. How you capture it at the speed of life? Amazes me more.

  20. You are too kind, Cheryl. A good camera and shooting straight ahead or angled to the side and you eliminate most blur. Just can’t shoot straight out the side. I’m sure there’s an application life somewhere in there. :>) Thanks, as always, for stopping by and leaving such nice words.