Every once in a while, I encounter a piece of writing that leaves me in stunned silence.
As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed early Friday morning, I saw a post from artist and writer Robyn Gordon sharing a work by Chelan Harkin. Gordon frequently shares various images of art and nature, with an accompanying related text. Her posts are designed to help reveal the infinite variety of styles, textures, colors, shapes ... everywhere.
I never fail to be touched to the core by what she shares.
Most of us go about our days, and our lives, oblivious to the wondrous world around us.
We drive to and from work, soccer practice, or the grocery store, with music on and thoughts rumbling thunderously through our heads, failing to recognize the Creator Spirit trying to woo our hearts ... with all manner of artistry.
When was the last time you walked down a business district sidewalk and noticed a persistent purple flower had broken through a crack?
This happened to me one day years ago when I was walking in downtown Ottawa. Taking a quick break from the newsroom at The Times building, I was heading to Jeremiah Joe, only to look down and see this lovely little being greeting me.
Another time, at the Streator Times office, I was walking to the former Streator Drugs across Bloomington Street, when I happened to look down and see what remained of a leaf, in the shape of a heart.
Both of these instances were perfectly timed for me, to give me the little boost I needed then and there. I even took pictures to remind me how soul nourishing it can be to behold Beauty in the midst of a monotonous or chaotic workday.
Not only did that purple flower break through the concrete sidewalk, it broke through the concrete heart I was carrying around in my chest. That heart-shaped leaf remnant reminded me when my life seems irreparably fragmented, to return to my heart space, my center of gravity.
I have used Gerard Manley Hopkins’ quote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” in this space enough to make it sound like a cliché.
It is not.
Nothing about our vast, diverse, colorful, intricate, wondrously beautiful universe – every particle of it bearing the fingerprint of Divine Wisdom – could possibly be a cliché.
Finally, this piece is a reminder that just when we think we have all the answers, we don’t.
Let us, in all humility, remember our finite brains were molded by an infinitely perfect intelligence, and as such, surrender with a touch of human wisdom, to Wisdom and Beauty, itself.
You don’t have to believe in God
but please collapse in wonder
as regularly as you can
try and let your knowledge
be side swiped by awe
and let beauty be so persuasive
you find yourself willing
to lay your opinions at her feet
Darling, you don’t have to believe in God
but please pray
for your own sake
great prayers of thanks
for the mountains, the great rivers
the roundness of the moon
just because they’re here at all
and that you get to know them
and let prayer bubble up in you
as a natural thing
like song in a bird
You don’t have to have
a spiritual path
but do run
the most sensitive
part of your soul
over the soft curves
of this world
with as much tenderness
as you can find in yourself
and let her edgeless ways
inspire you to discover more
just find a way
that makes you want to yield
that you may be more open
to letting beauty fully
into your arms
and feel some sacred flame
inside of you that yearns toward
learning how to build a bigger
fire of love in your heart
You don’t have to believe in God
but get quiet enough to remember
we really don’t know a damn thing
about any of it
and if you can, feel a reverence to be part
of This Great Something
whatever you want to call it
that is so much bigger
and so far beyond
the rooftops of all
— Chelan Harkin, “Susceptible to Light”
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines experiences common to the human spirit. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada Novak at email@example.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.