While I was recently walking along a beach in northern Michigan, I came across an Earth composition – a stone on sand, a leaf shaped like a feather, shells curling around and spilling over all. The photo shows it exactly as I found it. In it I saw four elements – stone as fire, sand as earth, the feather-shaped leaf as air, and the shells as water – and a fifth element in the sense of grace that came to me as I gazed upon it.
To me, that fifth element – that living force of harmony, passion, and spirit – that made the composition beautiful rather than simply a collection of natural objects is as much an expression of the Creatrix of the Universe as any human-made painting, statue, music, or poetry.
As I looked upon the whole, the soul of the composition seemed to breathe and speak – “See the thousands upon thousands of shells on the beach – rejoice in the power of life,” “Feel the strength of the Earth in the stones and how they hold all that drift upon them,” “Know that the air that wafted the leaf down into perfect position is the same that gives you life,” “Revere the bonds of the nearby tides to the moon as a gateway to the cosmos.” I knew that I could spend the rest of my life learning to understand all that composition had to tell me.
Over the next week I came across two websites that also illustrate the immense beauty of our natural universe, just as the Earth composition had. One, celebrating objects larger than ourselves is NASA’s Earth as Art collection, which you can see at http://eros.usgs.gov/imagegallery/. Here you will find photos of the Earth that are both aesthetically awe-inspiring and scientifically important. And, of course, for many years, we have all been amazed at the photos of the cosmos that have come from Hubble. To enjoy some of these amazing images of our universe, go to http://hubblesite.org/gallery/
The natural entities smaller than we are, or parts of who we are, are equally as stunning. The University of Michigan has a site with photos they call “bioartography,” which are of microscope slides created for scientific reasons that are also beautiful. You can see them at www.bioartography.com.
When I see these images or an object of great natural beauty, I am amazed at the generosity and goodness of the universe. Nature does not have to be so beautiful, to give us awe and wonder, in order to exist, yet she does. I have never seen a natural entity that is not beautiful in its own way – how essential is this to understanding the importance of tolerance and diversity in our own human society? Even the smallest, most ephemeral bit of nature is beautiful – what better affirmation of the sacredness and importance of every moment of our own daily lives? The infinite varieties of beauty in the natural world require openness to new experiences and ways of thinking – how else can we learn to live our lives to the fullest and make our inner journeys rich?
Sometime today, take a walk along the beach or in a woods or peer up at the sky and be overcome by the beauty of the universe. Revere this beauty as a reflection of goddess herself in the mirror of nature. It is waiting for you there every moment.