Yesterday I was outside all day working in my yard. While I am not a fan of weeding or pushing a wheelbarrow full of mulch, I do relish observing the wonders of creation, like the many-legged shiny brown creature that skittered across the dirt when I pulled up his hiding place.
At one point during my day, a thought flashed through my mind about how terrible it would be to lose my sight and, therefore, the experience of brilliantly yellow marigolds and green, well-watered grass, and the pink, red, yellow, and lavender miniature petunias in my hanging plants. (Blindness is no longer a passing hypothetical; a few years ago, in the middle of an unknown part of Grand Rapids in the darkness of night my, vision blurred and faded to the point where I could no longer read the brightly lit store signs, let alone street signs. I do not know how I made it home. Later I learned that I prednisone raises blood sugar. I had been given a triple dose that day by a physician’s assistant who didn’t realize that I am diabetic)
So yesterday when I envisioned missing the beauty of nature, I went into problem-solving mode. I realized that I could easily bring to mind the tall-stemmed beauties in Holland’s tulip lanes and the blossoms of the flowering trees outside of my church – all of which have disappeared after two weeks of loveliness. I thought, “I need to be intentional about creating memories of beauty,” so I stopped my weeding and gazed intentionally at the ducks on the pond and the red-leafed ornamental tree in my yard. Cal DeWitt, world-renowned Christian biologist, calls that process “beholding” and encourages us to make “beholding” a spiritual practice. I eagerly nodded my head when I heard him recommend that at a conference last Saturday, but after yesterday, I have new motivation.