40th Anniversary: Remembering, Transforming and Recommitting
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."
The Yosemite, John Muir, New York: The Century Company, 1912
The Call to Beauty
One summer, I was studying ecology in Bar Harbor, Maine. Our coursework blended experiences of natural beauty with intense learning activities, and the daily rhythms of sunrise and sunset were not lost on my classmates.
On one occasion, the group drove to Cadillac Mountain for sunset. Located in Acadia National Park, the mountain typically hosts a vast number of spectators at the beginning and the end of each day. Approaching the pink granite height, the crowd mirrored the gathering of a large audience anticipating a grand theatrical performance. Each found his/her respective place, sitting on stable rocks or on the ground. As the “curtain rose” for the opening act, ahead of us the sun began its initial descent. Excited voices quieted everywhere, and the chatter turned into a sacred silence that was stunning.
At once, bold color and unmatched design filled our senses as the spectacle moved seamlessly through its changes, frame by frame. The beauty displayed on the “big-screen sky” met a rapt attention among us, and held us together in a bond of both awe and appreciation. Until in due course the blazing sphere slivered, disappearing on the horizon, and our sunset community spontaneously erupted with joy-filled applause!
In that place, on that mountain, we all heard the call to beauty, and responded together with a gratitude that nourished us like freshly-baked bread! As the splendor of autumn approaches, now it is your turn!