I was was about to start driving home when I got the message that, as seemed to be the new norm, things were not going well at home health-wise. It was a two-hour drive that I did in an hour forty-five, and my sense of guilt and despair was palpable as I sped through the mountains of Vermont in a borrowed vehicle.
I don’t remember exactly where it was on my route, but as I rounded a corner on one of the highways home I was suddenly hit by a scene of immense and overwhelming beauty. A wide and winding river was slaloming its way through the rocks and ridges that lay adjacent to the road, but the cold of the early morning had covered its surface with a shimmering, gossamer layer of ice, so thin that it almost wasn’t there. The skin of ice would soon be gone, as the sun was making its way over the peaks of the Eastern hills, but for this one second in time, the sunlight sparkled on the ice as the water flowed visibly underneath. Like a field of liquid diamonds, the water launched its sparkles in every direction, dazzling my eyes and delighting some inner piece of my soul that I had thought momentarily asleep. I almost slammed on my brakes.
Knowing that I had crises at home to deal with, I kept driving. I did not pull over to admire it; I did not take a picture. I just kept driving as the moment passed. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How odd, that I drive through beautiful Vermont countryside almost every day, and never notice the beauty. It has faded into the background for me. It is all just backdrop. And yet when I take a moment to actually appreciate it, it is almost all of it beautiful. Stunningly, captivatingly beautiful. As I continued along my way, leaving the frozen river behind me, I began to notice everything else. Farms, steeples, pastures, and forests. Everywhere I looked, I saw something wonderful.
How could this be? How could I, in the midst of my closed off, single-mindedness, how could I possibly be appreciating the beauty of nature at this time? And yet, how could I not? It was like that river had been put there just for me to find. There were no other cars on the road this early on a Sunday morning, and a few minutes earlier the sun would not have been high enough to catch the ice, and a few minutes later and the ice would be gone. It was possible that nobody else ever saw this magic except for me. It was only mine. But why me? I had other things to think about. And yet now I was thinking about what I had seen, and I was not thinking about the ugliness of life that I was returning to. Or rather, I was remembering that life, all life, has its moments of beauty and its moments of crudeness, and that it’s important to acknowledge both.
I don’t know how you are doing today, but if all you see is beauty, take a closer look. Look for the places and the people that need your help. Look for ways to aid and include and brighten and love. And if all you can see is the darkness in your life, take a closer look too. The beauty is there, and it’s waiting for you just around the corner, if only you have the eyes to see it.