Beautiful, True and Life-Giving

“It requires no special talent or effort to look at our world and point out the things that numb us, or dumb us down, or depress us. In fact, it’s a no-brainer! But becoming keenly and consistently aware of what’s good, true, beautiful, and life-giving around us and within us demands a discipline: we must open our eyes, minds, and hearts. And we must keep them open.

The reward for that discipline is great: as we open up, we start to see beauty everywhere, not only in nature, but in human nature. There’s a lot of bad news out there, but there’s a lot of good news as well.”

– Parker Palmer

It has been an almost daily spiritual practice of mine to intentionally take photos of things that strike me as interesting, beautiful, funny, unusual or noteworthy. I have been doing this ever since the iPhone was released and that camera became so accessible. For someone like me, who tends to rush, this practice slows me down quite a bit and makes me more observant. I no longer run past the egret standing quietly in the marsh next to San Francisco Bay. I stop for bright orange California poppies growing near the edge of the road. Even when I cannot take photos while I’m driving, I notice the foggy, iconic skyline from the Bay Bridge as I return from Berkeley to the City. I observe the plantings and gargoyles in front of apartment buildings. The architecture of the City delights me. It feels good to send love and blessings to the people I see as well.

In my faith tradition, a Christ-follower named Paul wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) Instead of worrying that ISIS is going to blow up my apartment building or take over the world today, I will follow my calling in life and focus on what is beautiful, true and life-giving. All I have is today.