By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
“You visit the earth and water it,” this ancient desert dwelling Hebrew poet wrote of God so long ago, in Psalm 65. “You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.”
“You want to see some beauty?” this nomadic poet asked. “Just have a look around at this amazing creation.”
“The river of God is full of water.” That water brings rain and grain and beauty of forests and fields and feeds the birds of the air and gives the fish abundant life. If you want to be gobsmacked by a profusion of unbridled beauty, stand in one spot and take a look at the wonder of creation.
There is beauty waiting to be discovered in every nook and cranny of this world.
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,” wrote a more contemporary poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes – The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
Take off your shoes, Jubilants, because you, in this moment are on Holy, beautiful ground. Even in the dirt, even in the muck of everyday life, there is something beautiful blooming, something gorgeous begging to be noticed and appreciated.
The Zen Buddhist tradition in Japan gives us a philosophy called “wabi sabi,” which invites each of us to embrace the simple beauty of the ordinary. Wabi sabi instills in each of us the ability to see the hidden beauty of this world. The word “wabi” originally meant the loneliness of living in nature, but has come to mean rustic simplicity and quietness. “Sabi” means “lean” or “withered,” but now is understood as the beauty that comes with age. Wabi-sabi then, connotes an ability to see beauty in the flaws of this world.
Author Robyn Griggs Lawrence explains wabi-sabi by quoting from D.T. Suzuki, the foremost scholar of Western Zen Buddhism. Suzuki “described wabi-sabi as ‘an active aesthetical appreciation of poverty.'” Griggs writes: “He was referring to poverty not as we in the West interpret (and fear) it but in the more romantic sense of removing the huge weight of material concerns from our lives. ‘Wabi is to be satisfied with a little hut, a room of two or three tatami mats, like the log cabin of Thoreau,’ [Suzuki] wrote, ‘and with a dish of vegetables picked in the neighboring fields, and perhaps to be listening to the pattering of a gentle spring rainfall.'”
Isn’t that true beauty, Jubilants? Isn’t the real beauty, the real passion of life, found in the small things, like the taste of good food, the sound of rain on the roof and a true appreciation of the small, often seemingly insignificant and ordinary joys of life?