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A Monday meander: Beauty

Black-eyed Susan in the front meadow.

When we awaken to the call of Beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world.  We were created to be creators.  At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty.  When this desire and capacity come alive, new wells spring up in parched ground; difficulty becomes invitation, and rather than striving against the grain of our nature, we fall into rhythm with its deepest urgency and passion.

~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

Queen Anne’s Lace.

Joy is not simply the fruit of circumstance; we can choose to be joyous independent of what is happening around us.  The joyful heart sees and reads the world with a sense of freedom and graciousness.  Despite all the difficult turns on the road, it never loses sight of the world as a gift.

~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

Beauty in the chaos garden.

Have I mentioned the chaos garden?  I’m not sure I have.  Back in the spring when we were in NE Ohio, M the Younger (who aspires to having a small farm) gave us a big bag of seeds which he referred to as a chaos mix.  It’s a mix of different seeds, many of which I can’t identify even though those seeds are now plants in our version of a chaos garden.  M the Elder planted half the garden with the chaos mix without hope or the intent of harvesting anything.  It is mainly a cover crop to help amend the soil and if we get something to eat from it, so much the better.

Hints of purple.  Or is that blue?  What do you see?

Whenever I’m out on my daily walk, I stop by the chaos garden to see what is going on in there.  Sometimes I can sort of figure out what it is we are growing.  For instance, yesterday I saw a bunch of green beans.  There are peas (I could tell from the flowers and now there are pods), corn, various types of squash (not sure what just yet as we haven’t seen any actual fruit) or maybe there are melons, buckwheat, rye, and well, I’m just not sure what all else is in there.  It’s the beauty of the mess that has attracted my attention more than the possibility of harvesting anything.  (An article at Civil Eats mentions that in addition to rye, buckwheat, and sorghum, a chaos mix might also include peas, squash, radish, okra, melons, sweet corn, and beans.   That sounds about right for what we planted.)

Small blue flower with big green leaves.

I started reading John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty, at the beginning of the month.  I already know it will be a long, slow read.  Something to savor each day on the subject of beauty.  I picked this book from my large stack of to-be-read books because I felt in need of a focus on beauty, on joy, on the wondrousness of life.  I decided that Beauty should be and would be my focus for the month of August.  It might spill over into September and October and who knows?  Maybe it will spill over into the rest of my life.

In the scrounger’s garden.

Focusing on beauty is so much better than focusing on the news cycle.  Everything looks so dire in the news, and just the headlines in the paper are enough to exhaust me.  In the good news section, our county health department is finally ramping up a push to get people vaccinated by going to various places around the county, including churches.  It’s good to see them doing that, and hard not to wish they’d thought to do it sooner.  I saw the head of our health department on the news a few weeks ago almost defending those who don’t wish to be vaccinated by saying they have “good and valid reasons.”  If there are health reasons, I agree.  Those are good and valid reasons.  But the people I personally know in this county who have not yet been vaccinated do not have good and valid reasons.  They have politics and/or Wellness Industry/New Age propaganda and conspiracy theories.

Our county is one of the state’s hot spots (our positivity rate was 6.49% as of the end of last week).  The health department had gone to weekly reports but will be resuming daily reports today.  Like many, I’m frustrated with the situation and that frustration doesn’t do anyone any good.

I grew a variety of zinnias this year. They are all beautiful.

So you see, this is why I want to direct my attention towards beauty.  Life is short, and spending it on the headlines seems like a waste to me.  I’m also on a much-needed social media break with the caveat that I will blog if/when I feel like it.  Blogging might have been one of the original forms of social media, but I find it much healthier than the newer forms and I don’t lump it in with the likes of Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.  I can post until my heart is content without a care about algorithms and stats.  It’s one of the things I’ve always loved about blogging.  Most of us do it for ourselves and for the community that has formed around what we’re posting, not for the algorithms.

Except for the color, this is kind of what my hair looked like when I got out of bed this morning.

I’ve noticed the slight change in the light lately.  The shorter days, the angle of the sun, the long shadows.  The flowers and foliage take on a certain glow that they didn’t have in July.  The gladiolas are nearly finished.  The zinnias will continue for a long while.  They usually do.  The beautyberry bush has flowered and is beginning to form the gorgeous purple berries that it’s known for.  The leaves of the wild cherry trees, always the first to appear in the spring, are beginning to change color and drop (because they are usually the first to do so).  The sumac and Virginia creeper are also changing color.  Before you know it, we’ll be discussing Walktober (which, yes, I will be hosting again this year).

Glowing in the garden on a rainy day.

It was Blaise Pascal who said:  In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind.

Rilke said that during such times we should endeavour to stay close to one simple thing in nature.  When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves.  The slowness and stillness gradually take us over.  Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm and our hungers relent.  When serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can begin to seem like an invitation to new growth.

~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

My invitation to you is this:  Let’s all spend the rest of the month focused on finding beauty throughout the day.  It’s actually pretty easy to find if it knows you are looking for it and open to it.  And who knows?  Perhaps it will spill over into September and October and maybe even the rest of our lives.

The bee and the beautyberry bush.

Thank you so much for visiting with me today.  Let’s meet out at the Point to see what kind of beauty the water, the sky, and the setting sun have to offer.  Sunset is scheduled for 8:05 PM.  We’re still in the midst of summer here and at the beginning of the latest heatwave.  You might want to go for a swim while we’re out there.  Or at least a little wade in the water.

Please be safe, be well, and be your beautiful self.  ♥

As Macy Gray sang, “There is beauty in the world.” (If you’re not familiar with the song, look it up and have a listen. It’s good.)

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,816)  My father’s birthday.  He turned 90 yesterday.  I doubt he’s reading but I’ll put it out there anyway:  Happy Birthday, Dad!  1,817)  Beauty in the world.  1,818)  Love, always.  1,819)  M, always.  1,820)  Friends, family, and community.

What looks like stars (on the butterfly bush).


Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

26 thoughts on “A Monday meander: Beauty

  1. Happy Birthday to your Dad! I remember when you took him to Philadelphia–was it the Academy of Music (speaking of beauty, that’s a beautiful building and venue)?
    Focusing on beauty is definitely worthwhile. I know it raises my spirits to go for a walk and see a beautiful sky or whatever. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Merril. I’ll pass it on to him. 🙂 We went to the Kimmel Center. That’s the last time we’ve been up that way. We were planning a trip up there after our grandsons visit (next week), but now… I’m not so sure.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. We have the National Folk Festival coming up in September and I’m not sure if we’ll go. It’s all outdoors, which is a plus, but it can get fairly crowded at times. Friends are supposed to come down that weekend, stay here, and go to the festival with us. I think we’re all waiting to see how things go. I don’t think they will cancel it, unless it gets really bad here.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s all within us, Robin. We have to be aware, but we can take or leave whatever we choose. I’m braving the UK, family and friends this month. I can’t hang around to see if I die before the next crisis hits. I’m going to die one day anyway. I won’t endanger others, but I need to live now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, Jo. I’m having similar thoughts about hanging around to see if I die and needing to live now. I’m not sure where those thoughts will lead. We are isolating this week because our grandsons (too young to be vaccinated) are visiting next week. After that, I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful and inspiring message, Robin. Thank you. John O’Donohue’s words always feel like balm for my soul…especially when I’m weary. I have several of his books. Celtic wisdom feels like home to me. Enjoy the book. Savor it. 🙏🏻💜

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I was lost in the beauty of your images. Also, I feel I need to get a copy of the book you quoted as each one struck home with me. Wonderful images Robin, but you had me at the beginning with the Black-eyed Susan… a favorite of mine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Mike. 🙂 Funny thing about the Black-eyed Susan: for years, when we were in NE Ohio, we tried to grow them and eventually we succeeded but they never seemed to do well for us even though they grow in that area. Then we moved here and in the mid- to late-summer found them everywhere. They line the paths of the front meadow. They grow in farm fields and ditches and on the roadsides. I’m thinking they would have done better for us in NE Ohio if we’d just scattered them in a meadow and left them alone. 😀


  5. For years I felt a need to be “informed”, so I watched news religiously. Now that in many ways the news is less stressful, I seem unable to deal with it. I’ve entered into the avoidance zone. Perhaps I need to start a daily search to find, photograph, and share a small bit if beauty. Thank you for kick-starting that thought in me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you, Carol. Your comment made me think. I did the same during the four years of the presidency of the Big Liar and, like you, I don’t seem to be able to deal with the news now. I’m wondering if that is because we had four years of distraction from a con man who made so much noise (amplified by the media) that we couldn’t pay attention to the real issues. Now the real issues are in plain sight and they are so much more difficult to deal with and solve than the noise of the con man. Four years were wasted with distraction and turmoil for the sake of turmoil. Four years of maintaining and deepening a divide when what we need most is to come together. Well, I’m rambling now and this could turn into a rant (or a Beatles’ song…lol!).


  6. “But the people I personally know in this county who have not yet been vaccinated do not have good and valid reasons. They have politics and/or Wellness Industry/New Age propaganda and conspiracy theories.”

    Same here. It’s ridiculous, but that’s how it is. Like you I’m finding that IG and Twitter don’t call to me anymore. I like blogging, wherein I feel some sense of connection to people. IG and Twitter are a wacko game with no clear rules of engagement, nor any worthwhile goal I can figure. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes to both, Ally. Ridiculous and that’s how it is. And yes to blogging. There is more connection/community here. I think the only goal of social media like FB, IG, and Twitter is revenue. “Wacko game with no clear rules” sums it up so well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the John O’Donohue quotes, he’s one of my favorite poets/authors. The small blue flower with big green leaves picture is exquisite! I love that shade of blue/purple. Beauty is a wonderful thing to focus on and we can find it in some surprising places. I love the sunlight in the months surrounding the equinoxes. It seems just right, not as bright or as dim as it is around the solstices.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy 90th to your dad!
    I’m with you on searching for a bit of beauty every day. It’s everywhere when you look… and you don’t even had to look that hard, either 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fortunately, finding beauty is easy-peasy where I live. I think that is by design; I’ve cultivated the habit because it keeps me happy. I pretty much stay away from the news because it does not!
    Have a good week and stay cool. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eliza. 🙂 You too! We’re well into a heat wave today, but I think we’ve actually had a somewhat cooler than usual summer. Even so, I’m looking forward to the cooler months.


  10. This post is certainly filled with beauty, and I accept your invitation. Do you ever listen to NPR’s On Point, available as a podcast? There’s an interview, done many years ago but still available, with John O’Donohue. I’ve listened to it many times. What a poet!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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