by Roger Mock
It’s the height of summer and I hope you are taking the time to thoroughly soak it in (okay, maybe minus those days of extreme frying-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk style heat and humidity where you can’t soak anything in because you’re already soaked; but we’ll get to that in a moment).
I was hearing something about Greek philosophy this morning. Plato and his buddies believed that life could all be distilled down to three essential qualities – the Good, the True and the Beautiful (also interpreted as the One, the Good and the Beautiful). The Greek Trinity, if you will. What about the bad, you may ask. Well, the idea is that it all inevitably returns to the Good. You make a bad decision, you have a crappy experience, and you learn something valuable that moves you in a better direction. It’s also where that too freakin’ hot to be comfortable experience comes in because, of course, days like that allow you to relish those more “perfect” summer days all the more.
The True is generally interpreted as the scientific path and the use of the reasoning mind. I like the idea of starting from the One, though. Just an acknowledgement that All is connected. It’s a Uni-verse (“one song”) where all is encompassed; the great web where one little tug way over there on the thread effects the whole.
But Beauty is on my mind today. Because look around. The resplendent fruitfulness of the earth right now is simply dazzling. I am fortunate to live at the foot of the Helderbergs where on many a summer morning I may be found plucking ripe berries beneath that majestic escarpment. Such blessing, and such beauty. It fills me with that most sustaining of virtues, gratefulness.
There are other days during the year when I feel at odds with life, disjointed from joy. God seems aloof, maybe not even really there. When it comes to a head, I tend to start yelling into the wind, “Hey, is anybody there? Have you entirely forgotten me? Hello???” But I know it’s like that bumper sticker I saw once in the ’70s: “Feel far from God? Guess who moved.” And mostly I have forgotten to notice Beauty, and thus experience gratefulness.
If there is a Creator, a Mother-Father God, it should be really easy to find, right? Well, nature is God’s garment, an incredible coat of many colors. It’s right there in front of us all the time. The trouble is we’re often throwing a big invisibility cloak around it. One way this happens is that we obsess about things, about getting and having stuff, and then our cloak takes over. Like the businessman who ticks off the Little Prince, we are “concerned with matters of consequence,” while missing the beauty of the flower.
But when we allow ourselves to enter the flow of the One, the Good and the Beautiful—an eternal font always flowing from Source—that river of energy and love buoys us up and creates a life of enchantment; one where we won’t likely find ourselves sitting and brooding over the absence of God and our pitiful state. Beauty and love are the key. They are partners really. Gratefulness is just an awareness and acknowledgement of the flow of love.
We sometimes sing the Sufi chant, “Ishq’allah mahbud lillah. Allah ya jamil.” which means God is Love, Lover, and Beloved. God is Beauty. Enjoy the summer and immerse yourself in Beauty.