Stop and smell the roses, really.
Brothers & Sisters,
I've always been the person that would go on walks throughout nature, stop randomly and ponder the beauty of everything around me. The flowers, the trees, the ants and their mystical dance, I could go on and on. The point I'm trying to make is I've always acknowledged the beauty of things around me, and I just wasn't sure what I was appreciating (or who). At least this was the case until recently.
I firmly believe that God is in all things. Richard Rohr states that "once we see God's image in one place, the circle keeps widening." How very true that statement is! I ride my bike with my co-workers every day at lunch, and about halfway through our ride, we stop at this tiny peninsula that overlooks the bay and enjoys having downtown Providence as the backdrop. The park is a simple but beautiful place to rest and hydrate for the ride back to the office. The four of us often don't say all that much to each other, for me this is purposeful as I like to take the time and reflect on the day so far and appreciate the beauty of God all around us. Looking across the water and standing in the grass under the trees you can't help but not feel moved and in awe of the beauty around you. I've found it's a great place for me to pray silently for a few minutes and center myself after a tough morning.
Last year we would do the same ride and stop at the same park. I'd always look out across the water, in the same way, I do today but with one big difference: I wasn't appreciating God when I was doing it. Perhaps I was, and I didn't realize it at the time? I'll probably never have an answer to that question, and that's ok. One of the most surprising things about this realization is that I'm continually finding beauty in things that I might have previously overlooked. It's almost as if I've managed to clean off my eyes and see the clearest I've been able to in my entire life.
Getting to this state of mind isn't as easy as waking up one day and knowing that this is the new you and for a lot of us it is going to require a complete rework of the lenses of our heart, mind, and soul. What I mean by this is that we're all so caught up with the speed of the world nowadays that we never take the time to slow down, breathe and take in the beauty that is all around us. Richard Rohr also states the following: "Either we see the divine image in all created things or we don't see it at all." Jesus further backs this notion up by saying that we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies.
We're flooded all day every day with noise. Good or bad it's all noise and if we're honest with each other a lot of folks aren't great at tuning it out. I won't scold you for being one of these people that cannot put their phones down, are glued to their TVs or Books. However, I will question why you can't take 5mins twice a day to stop what you're doing, look around you and appreciate the world in which you live. I promise it's beautiful and I promise you won't miss those 10 minutes. Even if you don't believe in God there is no denying that this small spec of a planet that we're floating upon is filled with beautiful things.
How can our enemies be beautiful? The answer to this question is far more difficult to answer if you're a believer that evil people are disgusting human beings that don't deserve anything from us. I'd present the argument that while their actions might be heinous, you can separate the crime from the person and admit freely that all human beings in and of themselves are beautiful. Most humans that we deem to be our enemies are often at their cores broken and merely in need of compassion from their fellow man. Now I understand that as a concept of compassion for our enemies, or evil people is a wildly controversial subject and for some of you is a complete non-starter. If you're a Christian and hold in your heart contempt for even your enemies, I would challenge you on those principles you hold so dearly. If Jesus found his enemies beautiful why can't you? Instead, let us search our hearts and souls and see the divine image in everything, including our enemies.
Here's my challenge to you, my brothers and sisters: for the next week take 5mins twice a day to stop what you're doing and observe everything around you, center yourself, close your eyes and appreciate the world in which you live.