Monday, May 13, 2013

Beauty Near and Far

In my last blog I explained how home has never been a place to me. Rather, it is the people who make home. For this reason I have a lot of “homes.” When I visit the farm in upstate NY, I am home. When I visit my cousins in VA and make goofy home martial arts videos, I am home. When I get to see my god-children I am home. When I wake up at 7:30 in the morning for two or three hours of leisurely conversation over a pot of freshly brewed tea with my aunt and uncle, I am home. When I sit in Panera bread in the Tacoma Mall, surrounded by other young Catholics, studying the readings of the day, then I am home. I am home when I smoke a pipe or drink a beer with my brother. I am home making pizza for my friends, or going for a hike up Mt. Si with them.

There even more places that are home to me, in a deeper sense than I have ever known, so deep that I cannot blog about them. But home is always the people I am with, never the place I am.

Some people have a hard time understanding this. Most people, I think, have a certain amount of nostalgia for place, whether the place they grew up, or the place they spent much of their time. Some people truly do love, say, the hills of upstate NY with a fondness bordering on passion. For myself, it is not at all that I am indifferent to place. Instead, I love places. I love them all. I love the crispness of upstate NY,

the lazy warmth of the deep south,

 the glory of entire landscapes changing colors in the fall, and the warm smell of sun-baked pinestraw on the floor of forests that will never change their hue.

 I love the ice and snow of a New York winter,

and the sun, sand and warm water of a beach in Thailand.

I love the fertile, windswept high prairie of Eastern Washington and of Colorado and Wyoming,

and also the cozy grey drizzle and precious clear days in the Northwest.

I loved the tangled fertility of the Tigris river valley, and the blinding, unlivable sands stretching away from it as far as the eye could see. I loved the wild, harsh austerity of the Hindu Kush,
and the glory of the Himalayas, when the sun breaks over the barely visible peak of Mt. Everest.

 Beauty large:

And beauty small:

I love them all. When I am there I soak them up and glory in them, but I do not miss them when they are gone.

I miss people. One of the consequences of this attitude towards place is that it radically alters my concept of adventure, and what adventure truly is (that is subject for another blog). No matter where I go I see beauty to be shared and I find stories to be told, but what on earth is the point if there is no one to share them with or tell them to?

That is the point of this blog. To share beauty and tell stories. Not just the strange beauty that it has been my great good fortune to see, but the familiar beauty that we, strangely, do not see. All of it comes fresh and whole from the heart of God.

*All photos in this post were taken by the author.

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