I was talking with a new friend yesterday about the land in Pennsylvania where I grew up. When I was a child, I lived near a small town which was surrounded by miles and miles of rich, fertile farmland. Then the developers moved in, like vultures, and stole the wealth of the land and kept it for themselves.
As I write those words, I am aware of how angry I sound and how full of judgment. I almost apologized because I know it’s not nice to throw people into a category and judge them all. And, I’m also aware that my anger is a cover for a lot of pain and sorrow. We have funerals for people, and sometimes even for animals, but we never have a ceremony to mourn the loss of our land.
Yes, I know, I know people need a place to live. And I know it’s appropriate to share the goodness and beauty of that land with others. But we also need our farms. We need our crops. We need our food. And as our small family farms disappear, the huge mega-farm/corporations take over the responsibility of growing our food. And we all know where that has led – non-organic, genetically modified foods and the resulting rise in cancer and hundreds of other health and environmental problems.
But right now, I want to make a case for beauty. The reason I mourn the loss of our land is because I miss the beauty. I miss, for instance, that big cornfield that used to be adjacent to the school. I remember walking through those tall stalks of corn one beautiful late summer evening with my boyfriend. We walked between those tall rustling beautiful plants from the school all the way over to the picturesque country church where my family attended services. Then we stood under the dome of the beautiful moonlit sky and we kissed and we felt gratitude for all the beauty of the world and for the beauty of our burgeoning feelings for one another.
I miss the fields and woods and wetlands that were adjacent to the farmhouse my future husband and I once lived in. I remember walking toward the reservoir, parting my way through the tall grasses and the multiflora roses, loving the fluttering butterflies, the breezes, and the great blue herons flying overhead. There was so much beauty in that wildness. The fallow fields allowed for an enormous variety of wildlife – wild turkeys, deer, fox, rabbits…. Oh how wonderful to feel a part of such a rich tapestry of life.
I miss the green jewel of land that used to be next to the shopping center in town. Bright green grass and perhaps a hundred lovely trees were all transformed into a new shopping center with yet another big parking lot. How could we ever have thought that another ten stores would be more important than those hundred beautiful trees? Of course probably most of us did not think that. But we the people of that town were never given a choice in the matter. Whoever it was that owned the land was seduced by the thought of what they could do with all the money the sale of that land could bring. Money became more important than beauty.
Natural beauty is priceless. I cannot tell you how many times in my life my soul was feeling burdened and my spirits were low, but when I gave myself the gift of even an hour outside in the beauty of the sun, the clouds, the breeze, the trees, and the birds, everything was transformed. My spirit was magically uplifted. I felt restored, reborn. I could face the world with a smile again because I had been healed by the beauty of this world.
Let’s create pockets of beauty wherever we can.
Let’s preserve great vast expanses of land so that we can gaze out over that beauty and splendor and realize we are but a tiny part of something infinitely greater.
Let’s celebrate beauty wherever we find it. It is a gift to our soul. This planet would be one great globe of magnificence if we would simply learn to leave it alone.
Thank You. Thank You oh so much for the incalculable, precious, irreplaceable, extraordinary gift of Beauty.