If my soul had a natural setting, it would be the densely treed Australian Snowy Mountain ranges, grey fog a draping necklace in the cleavage of the mountains and valleys. There is a particular palette of greens and luminous browns that create it, a eucalypt mossy tang to the air, a hitch of woodsmoke and rain that bundles me up in calm whenever I think of it.
Of course, nature doesn’t care much for calm.
Today tropical cyclone Marcia is creating havoc, damage and flooding all over the bottom half of Queensland, Australia. Normally I love rain – the slow waddle and roll of clouds across the sky, the countless musical ways rain can fall to earth – but today, not so much. Not only because over a hundred schools were closed in the state, not only because a delightful driver swerved into a puddle to thoroughly dapple me with a pool of rainwater as I walked by, but because too much of a good thing really can be too much.
But I do love rain, and the incredible wonders and beauty weather produces on this planet of ours (and other planets in our solar system!) Flamboyant sunsets, foggy winter mornings, moonlight sleeking shadows to silver, the dry lavender dawn that warns the day is going to be a scorcher. The tangle and ebb of the colour of oceans, the fluff and nonsense of kittens and ducklings, the curl and flaunt of flower petals. Then there are all the marvels I want to see. The auroras (australis and borealis), coral of the Great Barrier Reef, the cliffs at Calais, the hot natural pools in Finland, Irish wolfhound puppies. Creation in full throated, bizarre, exuberant song.
Too long ago I drove along a mountain road with a dear friend, where we stopped countless times to soak in the view of mountain, sky, tree and air. I stood under an aspen tree for the first time, and stood blinking hard at the weirdness, the utter uniqueness, of the sounds of its leaves. Each new corner turned would have us breathing “Wow!” or struck gloriously mute at the magnificence before us. It was a holy experience that drive, our sudden miniscule recognition and gratitude at how incredible creation really was.
So today it’s raining. Flat grey clouds dumping water without style or finesse, hiding the moon and whatever sunset may be happening far above me. But I know – as sure as it’ll rain tomorrow, as sure as this summer is starting to curl into sleepy autumn – that seeing grey for days will draw my attention and thanks to the colours and splendors that will eventually return, and sharpen my memory for the beauties I have already experienced.
“For the beauty of the earth… of the skies.. of each hour.. of the day and of the night.
Hill and vale and tree and flow’r, sun and moon.. stars of light,
Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”
(excerpted from Hymn 92, For the Beauty of the Earth)
Is there a part of creation that fills you with wonder, gratitude or surprise? Which part or wonder of the natural world do you want to see for yourself? If your soul had a natural setting, where would it be?