“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it,” said Confucius. A few years ago, friends told me they visited Yosemite and disliked it. I couldn’t understand how that could be! The crowds, they explained. Too many people. And too hot. The beauty was there, before their eyes, but still their experience was ugly, uncomfortable and bothersome.
Here is my experience of Yosemite: The scenic grandness of the park awes me. I love the tall, evergreen trees, the sheer, overarching grey/white rocks stretching as far as the eye can see, the waterfalls whipping clouds of water droplets in my face. I know there are people around me, but my eyes are tuned not to buses puffing out fumes but to nature, great and small. I stop to breathe in the flowing curves of Half Dome, allowing it to open my mind and heart, and I pause to gaze wonderstruck at a single icicle that hangs from a fir branch, reflecting the blueness of a clear Yosemite sky.
Truth be told, I even enjoy the crowds in Yosemite: the dazed parents chasing their children, the older couple sitting huddled together on the bus, the dusty, rugged backpackers who have returned this morning from a multi-day hike. There is something about Yosemite that makes me happy, no matter where in Yosemite I am. In my everyday life, I can’t always enjoy little details, but in Yosemite I am a master savorer, seeing beauty in everything.
My mother is an expert in finding joy in little things. When I walk with her in the street near her house, she points out a solitary pink bloom on an azalea, the pattern of an old, bent tree trunk, or a bird’s nest hiding under a climber’s thick canopy of leaves. She likes to say that there is some beauty in every yard, no matter how neglected, and as I walk with her, looking at the world through her eyes, it seems that beauty does indeed shine from every nook and cranny.
These past few days we’ve been staying in Ein Kerem, a neighborhood of Jerusalem. It is an old neighborhood with quaint houses and dilapidated streets. There are no English style gardens here, but rather old olive, pomegranate and almond trees, wild roses, geraniums in half-broken pots, and patches of un-mown grass mixed with weeds. But my mother has trained me well. For today, I succeed in seeing beauty in little things.
For today only, I invite you to search for and savor the beauty in the world around you. Even in the midst of the most concrete-built city there might stand a tree that longs to be caressed with your appreciative eyes. And if all else fails and nothing looks good, take a peek up above, at this gorgeous sky that keeps us alive. It might be clear like a pool that has never been disturbed, or streaked with feathery clouds, or overcast, with the promise of rain to come. But it is always there, protecting us like a blanket of love.