Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the Way of Beauty

"A lot of my work is like picking potatoes; you have to get into the rhythm of it."
Andy Goldsworthy

Watch the video and click on the title of this post to see more of Andy's art.

I remember one year when it seemed that every time I went for a walk I found a bird's feather; not ratty, raggedy things, but perfect feathers from many birds. Each time I came across one, I picked it up and brought it home. After several months, I had a cup full of feathers. I still enjoy their variety, how they look next to each other: so similar, so different. I've often wondered why I found so many over such a short period of time, for while I occasionally still see a feather on my walks, I haven't been able to duplicate that year of many feathers.

I don't have the artistic talent in my whole body Andy Goldsworthy has in his little finger, but I enjoy seeing what he does partially because I also have an appreciation for the beauty of individual feathers, rocks and leaves, enough that I often pick one up and bring it home; not all of course; most are best left where they are, but some that will not be missed and will remind me of where I have been. I like the shapes, the colors, especially the rounded smoothness of river rocks, the speckled colors or ribbons of alternating layers.

The beauty of the earth and the temporary nature of much of that beauty is a spiritual thing. It reminds us all to appreciate each breath, each day, each opportunity, and to be present and mindful. When we make our world ugly, when we fail to create beautiful spaces to live in, something inside us weeps in frustration. The outer reflects the inner, and one way we bring peace to the inner is by putting ourselves in the way of beauty.

The photos of the feathers and the flowers are mine. Please give credit if you use them. I photographed the rhododendron blooms in Ireland, in the gardens of Muckross House in Muckross National Park near Killarney. They had fallen from their bush onto a mossy rock in a unplanned display of fleeting splendor.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I'm doing my summer wander, traveling in the United States, seeing family, visiting friends, checking up on the kids and all that entails, generally an emptying of my checking account. I'm also scheduled for knee surgery next week, just arthroscopic, but all of this has been keeping me busy the past month and I haven't had time to write.

I offer you this photo which I took last week. I like it. It looks very mysterious and mystical, almost like an image of space, but it is no more than the reflection of the sun shining in a pool of creek water at Sabino Canyon, near Tucson, Arizona.

I remember reading a passage years ago in Mary Stewart's novel, The Crystal Cave, the story of Merlin and an exploration of the nature of magic and truth. Merlin looked at a similar reflection of the sun in a pool of water and noted that the reflection of the sun was still the sun. We all seek the truth, but sometimes our viewpoint may be like this image, mysterious and incomplete, but not untrue. After all, we can't look at the sun directly. The truth of it would blind us.