Things of Beauty

We headed out one day to search for things of beauty, a favorite pastime in our retirement. My husband, George, and I drove back roads to the village of Leipers Fork, the rays of sun making their way through the canopy of trees, causing the leaves to shimmer in beautiful fall colors. The reds and golds were a stunning contrast to the brown tree bark and leaves blanketing the ground. We drove through narrow hollows and up and down enough hills that it was easy to imagine I was in my beloved Appalachian Mountains. I kept expecting to see a deer cross the road in front of us.

We were traveling to see art on this crisp, clear day. Jason Saunders, a landscape artist who works in oils, was holding his studio open house. We wandered in, stepping around the many people gathered to admire his work. The paintings were beautiful; I was especially drawn to the ones that captured the sunlight at dawn or dusk. The glow made me feel warm inside, an inner hug that I would have savored had I been able to quietly study the paintings. But that was not to be inside the rustic building. Conversations abounded amongst the observers: about art classes taken, previous paintings they had purchased, and the lovely way Jason expressed nature. 

We then visited David Arms’ gallery. His paintings of birds and eggs fascinated me as always, a reflection of his deep understanding of the glory of God. The accompanying Scripture references could easily lead a person to sit for hours surrounded by painted beauty, quietly worshipping the Creator of time immemorial. But this gallery, too, was crowded with people expressing their admiration for the art and the artist.

The shame is that in both locations the talking pulled me from my reverie; my soul could not simply enjoy and rest. Maybe it’s odd that a writer, a lover of words, prefers to not hear them spoken, but it seems there is far too much noise in this world. The loudness makes it nearly impossible to process an expression coming from any single person and it often renders me incapable of hearing God’s still, small voice.

We need more quiet, more hikes in the woods, more moments to sit undisturbed on a mountaintop. We need time to listen to birds sing and to watch squirrels chase each other up and down tree trunks. We need space to reflect on what’s inside—our thoughts and feelings—to better understand ourselves and our place in this world. We need moments to pray.

I found the highlight of our excursion at the Saunders’ studio, in the small black cat that met us outside the door. It didn’t make a sound, but simply rubbed against our legs and luxuriated in our petting. Quiet time with a gentle creature allowed us to experience life, love, and connection. A true thing of beauty.

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