Dispatches From The North: Expecting Beauty

The tall grass was waving in the wind, despite the shelter of the clusters of birch and white pine trees. Purple wild flowers grew among the Queen Anne’s lace strewn along the side of the road. They hid a ditch we drove alongside on one of our fishing trips throughout the week.


I looked out at the fields beside the truck towards the hunting grounds with towers for catching deer. Taking in the little details like the way the grass grew taller in some spots, stones and boulders dotting the otherwise flat landscape, looking at the trees clustered a few feet away.

Everyone in the truck started exclaiming to look to the left side of the road. I couldn’t figure out what was happening because it was moving as fast as the vehicle so they came into view after a few seconds of searching.

Two deer were running alongside the truck, keeping up with us effortlessly. It looked as though with each stride the wind was carrying them, forgetting that they didn’t have wings. It wasn’t the first time I saw them throughout the week I spent on the Island, though it was the first time they came that close. Whether or not they were running alongside the car out of joy or out of fear, searching for an opening to run into the thicket of trees, I don’t know. I can only hope that the joy I felt is something they felt too, while galloping through the tall growths on the outskirts of the trees.

My uncle remarked, “Y’always see the does and the fawns but the old man’ll be back in the bush. Big ‘ol buck hidin’ in there somewhere,” with a hearty laugh, as though he arranged for their appearance or at least knew a thing or two about beauty that seems to sneak up on you.

I stared at the fawn as we zoomed past, spots still dotting its small frame. It leapt once, twice, three times and on its fourth bound, took aim for a hole in the fence and disappeared into the wall of trees behind the log beams on the fence.

For the duration of the trip, there was something to be said for expecting beauty and being on the lookout for signs of life and wonder. The entire island was teeming with it, wildlife outnumbering the human inhabitants easily.

Though it may seem an exercise in arrogance to expect nature to overflow into my cup, as though I’m demanding it to bend to my will, I assure you it is anything but that sort of declaration.

Awe, wonder and the beauty we notice in nature are like a stream flowing through everything we are and when we tap into it, it’s not as though we’re asking anything of it because it’s simply always there. My participation in it changes nothing of its existence.

It became an exercise in the simple art of noticing and not only wonderful things, but noticing all of the life around me.

When you look at all things as though they contain great life, all things show you the great life they contain.

This is also true of people, I thought, and in the same way that nature revealed itself to me, so too did the family that I vacationed with. I didn’t learn anything new about my family, though I did see them from a more open-hearted, present-moment place, not worrying about being misunderstood or miscommunicating intentions, at least for the time being. I genuinely enjoyed myself and without any great effort, regardless of what others did or said, which wasn’t a first but a rarity for me. My tendency is to spend a great deal of time feathering the nests of those around me so that I sometimes forget to live, but this trip I wanted to stay fully present so I let the effort go, moment by moment.

It was this deliberate approach to looking for more than just the bright side.

Because our looking for the bright side doesn’t always help and it started to feel too much like effort to believe that it’s an enjoyable activity.

I looked for the life and it found me, right where I was.

No striving. No searching. No struggle.

Only your presence is required there and in that ease is the secret.


On The Wings of Miracles,




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