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

We’re at the end of the month,
All Hallow’s Eve,
and fall is definitely in the air.
We lose the light this next weekend
and I, for one, will miss the longer afternoons.
Living in a Mediterranean climate,
the signs of fall are more subtle than
in many parts of this great country.
You see it in the changing angle of the light,
you see it on country drives,
as hay is harvested and rolled.
You see it in the bigness of sky,
the sharp horizon line, unmuddied by summer fog
lying just off shore.
Around our home, you see fall in some of our trees.
The birches, just outside the front door, 
turn golden,
shimmering and shaking 
their heart-shaped leaves
in the afternoon breeze.
And you see it in the gingko tree,
that ancient traveler across time,
found in fossil form
around the globe,
its fan-shaped leaf distinctive
and lovely.
Our tree is misshapen and not large,
but its leaves are magnificent,
whether on the tree or off.
The birds love it either way.
We have a small, octagonal window with beveled glass,
one that we salvaged when we added onto this house 
about ten years ago.
We placed it at the peak of the high ceiling in
our bedroom,
where I can look up and out
as I wake each morning.
The gingko branches against the sky
tell me what season we’re in.
I love that.
Bare branches in winter,
nodules bursting into chartreuse in spring,
deepening, thickly-covered branches in summer,
and bright, bright yellow in fall.
As they fall from the tree,
I find them in the nooks and crannies of our yard 
and I marvel.
They die every year.
To make room for new life.
And they scatter themselves everywhere,
in one last hurrah.
I was here!
LOOK at me.
And I do.
I do.

I am a beauty-hunter,
seeking always for evidence
of love and hope and joy
in the world around me.
A friend had this quote on his blog 
last week and it has stuck with me
ever since.
“As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love,
but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.”
– Annie Dillard
But here’s what I believe:
if we seek to find beauty around us
because we are indeed 
looking for signs of the Source
of that Beauty,
then we will also find pleasure.
I believe that.
Pleasure is not the goal,
but it is the by-product,
the glorious gifted by-product. 
And in exactly that way,
we are saved by beauty.

Thank you, Lord.

This has been a challenging month on many levels, but I have enjoyed looking for beauty each and every day. I will join this last post in the 31-Day Challenge with Jennifer, Duane, Ann and Emily on this Wednesday and Thursday:

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  1. Good morning Diana,
    How fun as I linked up behind you at Duane’s…love all the birch and gingko photos…so beautiful…I’m with you because behind all the beauty I see, I see a loving and creative God’s handiwork and grace…blessings 🙂

  2. Amen!! What a lovely, lovely post, Diana. Your part of the world is much like ours – the changes are subtle, but they are there. Thank you for this truly beautiful series, Diana – and like you, I’m a bit ready to move on. Thinking about taking a break before advent, though. I’ve been walking on shaky footing these days and need to back away for awhile to gain clarity and purpose. Just in case you miss me. Love, Patricia

  3. I saw your face just ahead of mine at Jennifer’s, I think! I’ll be out and about later today – gotta get ready for my grandgirl’s Halloween parade now. Blessings to you this fall day…

  4. Shaky footing literally? or figuratively? or both? I WILL miss you if you take a long break, Patricia. I love your site, your words, your pictures, you. I’ve been planning to do a daily devotional for Advent like I did for Lent this year – had the scripture passages printed for weeks. But I’m weary right now and have a nasty cold – so I need a bit of a break, too. Take care, my friend.

  5. 🙂 thank you.

  6. Kim Sullivan says

    Beautiful images! Love the Ginko. It is the signature tree of my hometown – Athens, Georgia. They line many of the streets and are glorious during the fall!

  7. congrats on finishing this 31 day challenge…your words and pictures just brings my heart to a place of worship…helping me be drawn to His beauty all around me. I am glad I found you…not for the whole month…but most of it…Blessings as you take a big breath…breathe in deeply…and find some rest for your soul.~

  8. You’re welcome, Shannon – thanks for stopping by.

  9. Well…I’ll just have to make it point to visit Athens GA sometime in the fall, then. I adore gingko trees, probably because we had one in my growing-up house. Thanks for coming by, Kim. Always glad to see you.

  10. Thank you, Ro. Tomorrow I have A Deeper Family post and then I’m taking the rest of the week off, I think. My office is a mess and is calling my name. :>)

  11. You know that church I walked into when I was two-years old? Outside of the Fellowship Hall, through three sets of French Doors, was a patio surrounded by ginko trees. I remember wearing patent leather shoes and white anklet socks, and walking on a carpet of golden ginko leaves as the light slanted through the trees on Sundays after church in the Fall. I don’t know if I have words to express what a ginko leaf means to me. And here, at the end of your beautiful series, I am deeply touched (as always) by this ministry of yours.

  12. Thank you so much for telling me that lovely story, Deidra – it seems these amazing trees stir things in lots of people. I just left you a long comment – probably about the time you were leaving this one. Great minds and all that. :>)

  13. I’m stunned at this little bit of west coast fall. And I like the misshapen best.

  14. Yeah, I definitely identify for the misshapen things in this life. :>)

  15. Oh, Diana,

    How I enjoy this way you see, speak, delight in the common; you get it, you really do, and you share your appreciation in a way that engages others, invites them in, sharing in simple celebrations.

    “The gingko branches against the sky

    tell me what season we’re in.

    I love that.”

    If I had that window, I’d be exactly the same way. Which made me smile :).

    (p.s. I tried to read your post at DF but it’s not live yet; I’ll look forward to this portrait you’ve painted, and the wisdom hidden throughout.)

  16. Gorgeous photos! Here in London each time I’ve gone out for a walk the last few weeks I’ve found myself wishing I were a photographer to capture and preserve some of the beautiful trees of this season. So thanks for sharing yours.

  17. It was live at midnight my time – so you should have it. There have been some link problems, so try this one: *Will you join me over there, for the rest of the story? *

  18. You are so welcome – and thanks for dropping in from that beautiful city on the Thames!

  19. I love imagining that window, telling you what season it is.

    This was a great series, and your photography complemented it so well.

  20. Thank you, Megan. I’ll try shooting pix of the window, but I’m not sure it will convey it as well as words do. Thanks for following along.