Take a Break for Beauty

There’s a reason that all the most important American holidays are towards the end of the year. The light is growing dimmer, our skies are overcast, and the leaves are falling off the trees. Everything seems to conspire to make these days dreary and devoid of color. And we’re not even to winter yet. We need all the encouragement we can get. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas – our celebrations get bigger as we move into the darkest days of the year.

Here where I live, it’s been raining, misting, and spritzing for the last several days. A cold drizzle to accent the mid-afternoon twilight. Lethargic from the weather and unable to concentrate on my work, I decided to take a little break. I went for a walk in a part of town I’m less familiar with. I decided to get outside and see what I could see, rain or no rain.

I was well-rewarded. Just a few minutes into my walk, I took a random turn down a dead-end street and found myself at the entrance to a wooded nature trail I didn’t even know existed.

Setting foot on that path, something shifted inside me. The soggy leaves squished under my feet and raindrops splashed me from treetops. The air had changed. The sights, sounds, and smells of the city were suddenly far away. I was enveloped by a sense of peace and presence.

There was life here.

The dim, inanimate world that I had inhabited just a few minutes ago had been transformed. The rocks and moss under my feet seemed to breathe beneath me. The trees welcomed me into their forest. In a flash, the world had been re-enchanted. The land was alive, and I was a part of it.

I would have lingered there on the trail as long as daylight remained, but I had to return to work. Still, the sensation of aliveness remained with me for the rest of the day. When the darkness seemed too much to bear, all I had to do was remember myself standing on that wooded path, flanked by the mossy trees. I was rooted again in a community of living beings that thrives even in the short, dim, rainy days of late fall.

I’m grateful that I took the time to go exploring. I’m glad I took a break for beauty. There’s so much more to this existence than meets the eye. Life is here, all around us, if we’re willing to see it.

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