31 Days in which. . . I Am Saved by Beauty

At the end of it all, I am tired.
I am weary, to tell it true.
I wonder about so many things,
so many people,
so much pain,

There are days when I am tempted
to lose heart.
To chuck it,
check out,
roll over and play dead.

And then . . .

I walk into a room
where I will be alone
for a few days.
And I sigh, deep.
I peer through the slats,
find greens and browns,
lines and curves,
light and shadow.
And I am stunned,

I hear water, 
moving over rocks.

Smell rain,
coming in the back door,
blowing, dancing,
playing with the sky.

I find welcome,
tables spread with goodness,
candles lit,
napkins ready,
bread fresh-baked.

I find row upon row of hand-thrown mugs,
colors of earth and sky,
for the taking,
for the warming.

And the sighs keep coming.
One of my mother’s 
greatest gifts to me —
the finding of beauty in both
the everyday gifts
and the  
once-in-a-great-while ones.

Like simple wild roses,
and cerise beauty-berries,

exotic and unusual
to this California

Solid, old hymns,
and newly-minted words,
all of it gifted
with excellence
and joy.

There is deep thinking,
hard questioning,
good learning —
about our brains
and our words,
and our faithfulness
to the gifts
given us.

And there is the turning-around
closing service,
chairs facing out over the glory,
beholding the Glory.
Because this is the heart of it all.
When we’re weary,
when we’re frightened,
when we wonder where next
to put our feet,
this is how we find the way.

We hear the words,
we say the words,
we see the words,
and we meet the Word.
We take the Word,
we share the Word,
and we remember.
We re-member.
We find food for the journey,
rest for the weary,
and hope for the world.

Giving thanks this night for time at Laity Lodge, whose location, hospitality, beauty and generosity are not to be matched. We were led by brilliant and creative teachers – Professor, researcher and author Dr. John Medina; author and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet;  publisher and editor, John Wilson; author and priest, Lauren Winner; Professor, poet and essayist Julia Kasdorf; musicians extraordinaire, Ashley Cleveland and Kenny Greenburg.

And with this post, beginning a 31 day exploration of a famous Tolstoy quote which has haunted me for the last three years, since it was given to me by my spiritual director as we began our time together. Somehow, these seven words (“The world will be saved through beauty.”) have spoken to deep places in me and I’d like to explore those a little, with photos, words, quotes, scripture, prayer. It’s not all mapped out, but I believe we’ll get there just the same. Kind of like life.

Joining with The Nester and the 1000 (YES, ONE THOUSAND other bloggers who have taken up the gauntlet and will write every day for the month of October. Go on over there and check it out if you don’t believe me.

And I cannot leave this particular post without saying specific words of thanksgiving for the people with whom I was privileged to live, eat, work, think, talk and worship this past weekend. Here are a few of them:

From left to right-Dena Dyer, Sheila Lagrand, Michelle DeRusha, Deidra Riggs, Nancy Owens Franson, Sandra Heska King, Amanda Johnston Hill, me. (with Shelly Miller and Marilyn Yocum at the table just behind this one.)
Shelly Miller of Redemption’s Beauty and Amanda Hill of Hill+Pen
Marcus Goodyear – our faithful Senior Editor at The High Calling 
and his henchwoman, Deidra Riggs.
A whole bunch of The High Calling bloggers – we were about 1/3 of the total number of 
participants in this magnificent weekend.
Megan Willome and Dena Dyer, former neighbors, native Texans,
brilliant writers, great people.
Cindee Snider Re (Breathe Deeply) and Marilyn Yocum, one from Wisconsin, 
the other from Ohio,
fabulous human beings, creative lovers of beauty.
Amanda Hill, Shelly Miller, Michelle DeRusha (Graceful) and Sheila Seiler Lagrand (Godspotting). DO YOU SEE HOW BLESSED I AM?
Sharing with Michelle, Ann, Jen, Laura Boggess & LL Barkat tonight:

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  1. Diana,
    Rejoicing with you in your beautiful and life affirming experience at Laity Lodge. One day, I hope to go, too. Until then, your exquisite descriptions will carry me through. I am so looking forward to your next 31 days. I know that beauty will be leaking out all over the place.

  2. Thank you, Holly. How goes this time away? Hoping it is all you imagined – waiting for you to pick up pen (or keyboard!) and let us know…

  3. I LOVE your 31 Days theme, Diana…and what a beautiful post to launch this month of changing from summer to winter. Oh how I longed to be with y’all in Texas. Much of the ambiance of Laity Lodge I’m privileged to enjoy every day here on Pollywog Creek…but I long for the fellowship of kindred hearts and the unhurried days of just being together. xox

  4. Oh, Diana, I will be here every day to drink deep the beauty! You brought me to tears this morning and made my heart sing.

  5. Okay, I’m already exhausted by this 31-day theme–how will I ever keep up with all the reading? But this is a lovely summation of so much that was during the weekend in the canyon. A friend asked me to tell her about it, but I think I’ll just send her the link to this post.

    Food for the journey. Indeed.

  6. I’m back today, Diana. It’s just a glimpse of my time away…but it’s a start.

  7. So glac I got to hug you snd that YOU took that fabulous picture of Dena and me.

    Guess what? I have those purple berry bushes. Bought them myself so I would have beauty in autumn. Never knew what they were called.

  8. Wonderful, wonderful. Beautiful. Your photos are excellent, friend.

  9. Would so loved to have met you there, Patricia. Thanks for these kind words, friend.

  10. Thank you, Nancy. And yeah – I’m already second and third-guessing my decision to do this craziness!!!

  11. Goody-goody! I’ll check it out.

  12. Thank you, Marilyn. I couldn’t find you on Facebook, but I posted even more photos out there, as did about 10 other people!!

  13. lindalouise says

    Oh, I’m looking forward to this Diana. It is such a gift to come away for a few days and find the beauty that surrounds us. This was peaceful and lovely.

  14. Glenda Childers says

    Ohhhhh … this is going to be good … I can feel it in my bones.


  15. Thank you, Linda. Gotta get crackin’ on this 31 day thing, though. Should have figure it all out long before now…

  16. Glad you can feel it, Glenda – cuz I’m still searching around for ideas. :>)

  17. Oh, my goodness. You all look so beautiful. Saved by beauty, indeed. Indeed.

  18. We missed you, beautiful you, Laura.

  19. Hi Diana! I almost cried reading this. A city girl, who loves the city…but whose soul leaps at the simple beauty of the lines, curves and colors you described in this post. So I’ll speak it into existence now by declaring that I will one day sit at that beautifully prepared table…perhaps across from you. Be blessed. This was absolutely lovely.

    • AH, Lisha! I’m pretty much a city girl, too – at least, a suburban one! – and I loved this place. And the next time they have a writer’s retreat, I’m doing everything I can to be there. We’re into our third year of retirement over here (me from an associate pastorate, my husband from investment counsel) and our elderly moms’ health is stable enough for us to do some of the traveling we always planned to do. Attending Deidra’s wonderful JTreat was my solo trip for this year. Maybe next year, we can sit across from one another in the canyon. I look forward to that.