Thursday, October 03, 2019

First Thursday Spiritual Journey: Beauty

On this, the first Thursday in October, our host, Karen Eastlund, has invited us to reflect on the subject of beauty.

I spent a lot of time at home this month. And this wasn't the first lockdown of the year. Haiti has had a challenging year, and there have been several multi-week periods of strikes and protests. Of course the effects of this go way beyond my little life, but for my family, and for many others, what it means is virtual house arrest. We stay home because fuel is hard to come by, we stay home because our places of work are closed, and we stay home, sadly, because at times it is dangerous to go out.

So we look for beauty where we are.

I'm on my third year of a daily photo practice, where I follow prompts from the Capture Your 365 website. Yesterday's prompt was "Framing." I posted this photo:
I've been sitting on this porch watching birds during my forced staycation, rocking in that chair and peering through my binoculars and even recording some bird sounds on my phone. It's a peaceful spot, and it is beautiful to see the birds, but of course you can't see any birds in this photo. You can see the lovely stonework of the porch, and the lovely red tiles that I enjoy, and my lovely Haitian rocking chair, but you can also see many flaws.

Some of my Facebook friends were quick to comment on how beautiful the spot was, and a couple even said I should use it as a background for taking family portraits. Really, I wondered? Don't they see that the wall in front of the chair needs painting? Don't they see the barbed wire on the outer wall between the house and the road? (Nobody thinks barbed wire is beautiful.) Don't they see that the front yard is a wasteland? And that wall around the house used to be quite pretty, but last year a woman ploughed through it on her first driving lesson, and what replaced it isn't nearly as nice. You don't see my husband's bike repair equipment, because I got my son to move it for the photo, but that's usually there too. It's just like when I look at a photo of myself; I have to squint to avoid seeing all the things that are wrong and need to be fixed right away.

One of the reasons I do my daily photo project is that I want to be where I am, to appreciate what is around me instead of wishing myself elsewhere.  Sometimes the beauty is in how you look. Yes, this is a beautiful spot, and I love it. I love sitting there and exploring the beautiful world in front of me, listening to the sounds and gazing at the sights, enjoying the "good and perfect gifts" God has given me. (James 1:17 - "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.")

I choose to focus on what's beautiful.

Check out Karen's blog to see what others have posted on this topic!


Karen Eastlund said...

Ruth: Thank you for your post. I appreciate your honesty and commend your courage. My heart goes out to you.
I'm so sorry about your confinement. That must be terribly hard. I hope that the future will bring easier days for you, your family, and all of Haiti. Please know that you will be in my prayers. Is there a further way I can offer support?

Ramona said...

Oh, Ruth, I love your framed picture. It reminds me of one I took in Spain, but alas, there was no rocking chair in my frame. I truly believe there's no better place for sitting and taking in beauty than a rocking chair. Kudos to you for looking for beauty in spite of the difficulties you face during your lockdowns. Choosing to focus on what's beautiful is a lovely antidote to your current situation. Praying that Haiti will face less unrest.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, your world in Haiti is so different than mine. I believe it takes courage to find beauty in challenging situations. Your quiet place is a refuge from the turmoil that you witness. I appreciate the raw honesty of your lockdown situation. It is something that is far removed from what I know. You have framed your thoughts beautifully and are a witness to the power of faith in troubling times. I send blessed thoughts and prayers out to you this morning.