the people along the sand all turn and look one way;
they turn their back on the land, they look at the sea all day.

as long as it takes to pass a ship keeps raising its hull;
the wetter ground like glass reflects a standing gull.

the land may vary more, but wherever the truth may be -
the water comes ashore and people look at the sea.

they cannot look out far, they cannot see in deep -
but when was that ever a bar for any watch they keep.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Floating In Beauty

"Little round planet in a big universe,
Sometimes it looks blessed, sometimes it looks cursed.
Depends on what you look at, obviously...
But even more it depends on the way that you see."
- Bruce Cockburn
"Child Of The Wind"

After nearly fifty-two years of life, I have finally begun to figure out that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Or perhaps more accurately...the ability to perceive beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty certainly does exist in the universe...or, more accurately, there are orders in the natural world that create something that the human being perceives as beautiful.

But, what the human sees is not as important as how the human sees. What is the mindset behind the observation?

For years, I have tended towards seeing ugliness and horror in the natural world. And certainly, it is there; a brutal, nonpersonal reality permeates our existence...sunsets from an airplane are breathtaking, but you just cannot open the door without other realities of the natural world killing you dead. And horribly. Fire is is also unpersonal, and it kills. Horribly. Beautiful people molest children. Beautiful frogs have skin that produces deadly toxin.

Beauty does not have a morality. And it took me getting rid of God to discover and embrace that reality. I had to see both beauty and horror as amoral realities - in the natural world. My mind simply could not embrace the existence of a good God who had created overwhelming beauty...that could kill you. Others could...through simplistic faith. But I am not wired that way, and it stretched me so thin that I nearly popped.

So - I cast off God, and everything came into focus. I saw beauty all around me...I was floating in it...and I did not have to classify it or justify it as good or bad or right or wrong. It just was. So was horror and heartbreak and tragedy and suffering. But I saw them both - and did not blame God for either one, because God was no longer a factor in my thinking.

I am glad I set myself free from that prison. I am also glad that I let poor old God off that hook. I have yet to figure out what the God thing is all about...and I gladly accept that I probably never will. Mystery is enough without my placing my well thought out doctrine on top of it.

But beauty...somehow, I have found it. God or no God, I am still floating in beauty. Occassionally, I feel something like gratitude towards - ?? Mystery! I know it sounds weird, but I am grateful to me...for allowing myself to see beauty, to recognize that along with horror and wrongness, there is something else. The more I let myself see it, the more I see it. And the more I see it, the more I let myself see it.

And I float in beauty. Understanding nothing, but not really needing to.

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