I rarely include non-political subjects in the essays here, but tonight I am feeling particularly enveloped by the season, so, before allowing this year to come to a close, I want to share with the ‘regulars’ here a brief personal Christmas greeting. (If you visit here solely for the political content, you may simply want to skip this particular post ... :)
We live on nine acres of woodland in an isolated corner of our township, less than a half mile from the end of a barely-traveled, dead-end road -- nestled close to the bottom of a valley, with mountains to the north and south. There are only a handful of other homes on our road. Most of them are set back from the road, invisible, or barely visible, to the rest of the world.
We walk our dog, Bert, at least a half dozen times a day, either down the road in one or the other direction, or into the woods, taking familiar paths, or walking cross-country when we’re in a particularly energetic or ‘trailblazing’ frame of mind. :)
We have lived in our new home about a year now, and, in the evenings, we still find ourselves sitting by the fire wondering when we will have to pack and go home. The beauty, isolation, and serenity that surround us daily sometimes causes us to succumb to the illusion that we are on a ‘vacation’ of sorts. Such peace of mind could not possibly be permanent. :)
Tonight my husband was feeling a bit under the weather so Bert and I took our late-night walk alone. We walked down to where the road ends and the woods take over in three of four directions.
The night is so clear tonight that, for the first time in the more than five decades I have walked this earth, I was virtually overcome with awe as I looked into the nighttime sky.
No colors but for countless infinitely tiny specks of white above … and skyward-reaching ropes of blacks and grays.
The trees are bare now, and, as I looked to my left, the entirety of my vision was filled with 100-150-foot tall, dark sentinels, through which peered an endless blanket of stars, all the way down to where the sky meets the dark left horizon. As I looked to my right, the image was the same. And, gazing upward, where the smallest, highest tendrils of those thousands of old, wise trees’ narrow arms trail off into tiny twigs, yet more stars formed an endless glimmering canopy above.
I sat on a large rock alongside the road, and Bert sat down next to me, appearing to want to drink in the majesty every bit as much as I.
I began reflecting on the way we modern Americans find ourselves incessantly bombarded with glitz, glare, noise and superficiality ... all posing as something of value. How often do we set aside time to step back from the cacophony, seek a secluded spot (if only in the corner of our own mind) and reflect on the majesty and artistry that surrounds us each and every day? Artistry that we rarely, if ever, acknowledge, let alone offer thanks for, when overwhelmed in its presence.
There is more beauty in a single leaf than in most of what passes for expensive, acclaimed, 'priceless' art today. What I saw and experienced around and above me tonight, extending infinitely in every direction, causes the creations of Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Shakespeare to pale in comparison.
I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.
God is good. And, no matter how many trials we may be facing, or how many burdens we may be asked to bear, if we but take the time to isolate ourselves from the world for some time each day, the realization of a myriad of personal blessings that we tend not to acknowledge will find themselves flooding into our hearts and minds. And it is from that ‘stepping back’ ... and simple spiritual observing ... that peace of mind is born.
Below are a few personal Christmas photos that I’d like to share with friends here before signing off for the year.
Being that we are in a new (our final) home, we started fresh with new tree decorations that I have admired from afar for many years – mostly German blown-glass Kugel balls, white lace wire ribbon out of which I designed bows and a tree-topper, silver garnishes and white feather birds. The photos are of those that are among our favorites.
With these thoughts and these photos, I want to say to all who have wandered by here over the past seven months, thank you for stopping by. And to those who have added their own thoughts and observations, thank you for taking part. An interactive weblog is only as successful as the conversations it inspires.
Best wishes to all for a blessed Christmas … and a New Year filled with Peace and Contentment!