Tuesday, January 6, 2009
In the late afternoon, I bolted outside for a walk before the sun had gone too low for me to take pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed that walk. There is a certain beauty in wintertime scenery that is hard to describe. There is some visible beauty, if you look for it, the delicate tracery of branches against the satiny gray sky, the shine of sunshine on ice, the bare curves of hills and valleys. But it’s no beauty to compare with the luscious summer or lavish fall. I think the beauty is more one of simplicity, with no pretense or show. It’s the beauty of ceasing to strive for beauty. The plain crunch of snow underfoot, the freedom to walk anywhere without any pretense of following the paths that lie beneath the snow, the stark colors of black and white, the transparent chill of the air, the utter quietness.
There one can be alone and really feel alone; there is no foliage that could hide onlookers from sight, no rustling leaves to conceal the sound of footsteps. I felt no obligation to follow the paths, but cut from the big field up to the orchard, then up through the woods. I stopped a while on top of the knoll there to pray. Surrounded by the transparent honesty of winter, it was easy to be transparently honest with God about some of my frustrations and perplexities.
Next, I went along the edge of the forest, tracing the perimeter of the hill pastures, and taking pictures of the sun which was setting. My mind was snagged from its perplexing thoughts to figure out how best to capture the glory of the sun, setting with orange and gold highlights beside the dark, dark green pines. I flopped on my back in the snow to try to get the widest angle possible, and then had to figure out how to remove the snow which had slipped in my clothes.
After that I made my way over those wonderful dramatic humps of ledge that are up in the high pastures, and back along the stone wall to get a picture of the sun setting behind my rock of meditation.