When my husband and I were younger, we would choose to go on vacation to some place of rare scenic beauty where the wonders of Nature would rest and refresh us. Lately, we've grown to appreciate home-grown beauty, home-grown relaxation, in the daily moments of ordinary life.
If we rest in God, find our peace in God, we can rest in beauty anywhere because God is everywhere. God's beauty is as powerful in a chipmunk chattering by a backyard tree as it is in a muscular elk leading his harem across the road in the Rocky Mountains. I can delight in the wild, sweet smell of the local grapes at Wegman's, as individual as the warm scent of the grapes at a winery in Napa Valley, California. A grand-daughter's skillful drawing of an anime figure is as meaningful to me as the artistry of the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
Every day and night bring us moments of beauty and rest that refresh and enlarge our souls, no matter how stressed and full of pain our lives may be. If we live in the moment, in the Now, alive to everything and everyone around us, we discover humility and awe in ourselves at all that is happening around us that we used to heedlessly rush by.
Waiting with Mary Beth for blood work to be done, I see the tender love of the man, quietly holding the hand of the very ill woman who sits beside him, waiting for blood work. I hear our relaxing laughter shared with our daughter over a quick lunch at Denny's. I drink in the Christmas village quality of the pretty buildings and restful, winding streets of rural East Aurora, that I'd love to shrink and put under my Christmas tree. I quietly listen to my sweet man's even breathing in bed next to me during the night.
Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch Jewish woman who died at the age of twenty-nine at Auschwitz, a Nazi Death Camp, wrote diaries at home and then at Auschwitz that were eventually published as "Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life" (which I read) and have been re-published in the Orbis "Modern Spiritual Masters" series. In her diaries she struggles, comes to an inner awakening to God's presence, and final peace and acceptance. She grows to an identification with all who suffer, yet she also delights in a great awareness of joy and beauty in the present moment.
She writes at the Death Camp "I now listen all day long to what is within me and am able to draw strength from the most deeply hidden sources within me....I am with the hungry, the ill-treated, and the dying. But I am also with the jasmine and that piece of sky outside my window.... I find life beautiful and meaningful."
The deeper we rest in God's vibrant Presence available to us everywhere, even if in only a piece of sky, the deeper grows our peace, acceptance, and joy in all life. Our hearts praise God then - in all times and circumstances, because no place in this Universe exists that does not proclaim His Beauty, Power, and Overarching Love. "O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is Your Name through all the earth!" (Psalm 8:1.)