Friday, January 27, 2012

Embracing the Beautiful Things

 He hath made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11 

Winter has been drab and dreary here in the mountain this year. Warmer than normal temperatures, rain, mud, and overcast skies have taken the place of sunlight falling over glistening white, snow-covered branches and hills. While I don't mind the warmer temperatures, I long to see the woods dressed in dazzling ice-frosted trees. I miss how the snow illuminates dark January nights. I miss the quietness that falls over the mountain when the ground is blanketed with a covering of soft snow. It's hard to see beauty when everything appears so drab. Then today, I woke up to the sight of a male and female cardinal sitting quietly amidst the dreary brown background. Their beauty stood out even more because of their dismal surroundings. 

It made me wonder, do I shine brighter in the ugly seasons of life? Christians are supposed to represent Christ's light in a dark world. I hate to admit it, but often I don't shine very bright when times get tough. I grumble and complain. I get stressed and lose my temper. I think thoughts I shouldn't, and I allow discouragement to obscure my vision of the beautiful things that surround me each day.

A lot of ugly stuff has crept into my life recently; the near death and illness of my father, my pending divorce signaling the end of three decades of marriage, issues with grown children making poor choices, flare ups with my own health, and the reality that my job will be ending due to modern technology.

It can be difficult to see anything beautiful during the messy times in life, but there's always beauty around us if we look for it. Some of the lovely things I've experienced recently in this present bleak season are: A grandchild's sweet smile and tiny hand grasping mine, a warm and inviting house to come home to after being cooped up in an office all day, a rainbow following a rain storm, an elderly couple walking across the street holding hands, the warmth of a cup of tea in my hands, an act of kindness from a sister in Christ who I didn't know, laughing with my best friend until we cried over something only the two of us would find humorous, deer in my back yard, a moonlit sky, an unexpected letter from an old friend, the pleasure of reading a good book, and of course the bright cardinals in the tree outside my kitchen window this morning.

Focusing on the lovely things will help us get through the rough spots and those messy seasons when life really doesn't make sense.Just like the cardinals brought brightness to the dull-looking mountain landscape, we can illuminate the darkness when we look beyond the bleakness. Our positive attitude and joy can inspire others to embrace the beautiful things in life.

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