I recently attended a women's event at my church focusing on finding the beauty in hard, foreign, strange places. We connected over sharing areas in our lives that were difficult, desperately trying to search for the beauty hidden in them. As part of the event we did a stream of conscious/free-write list of things that give us life in the midst of challenging circumstances...things that keep us from giving up... that give us a glimpse of God's grace and goodness when it seems near impossible to find a silver lining.
Here were mine-(written within the 3 (or so) min time limit)
sunlight sparkling on the ocean
the soft band of peach across the horizon before the sun dips out of sight
fields dotted with golden pools of water at sunset
the coolness of grass on my bare feet on a warm day
the warmth of a good hard hug
the intoxicating smell of perfectly ripe tangerines
thin whipsy clouds in the stratosphere with thick billowy cumulous clouds in the forefront
the linger of dark chocolate on my tongue
the crash of waves against the cliffs....
(there is something beautiful and soulfully soothing in the violence and turbulence of the water)
worn pieces of sea glass
a perfect cappuccino
the hide and seek of sunlight and shadow against mountains and canyons
sea gulls floating on the breeze
the sight of worn and weathered hands
Truth in unexpected places
candles and Nora Jones
sharing a full-bodied glass of wine on with good friends
Undoubtedly there are countless more things... but these are at the top of my list. On a hard day, drinking a cappuccino while staring out across the ocean allows me to breathe a little easier. It gives me perspective. It gives me Hope. It reminds me that God is Love, and Good, and Creative, and Amazing... It makes me stop- even if only for a moment- and remember that I am surrounded by blessings and grandeur. In the midst of my tumult there is rest for my soul. These things keep me alive when I am fading and give me strength to face another day. He has surrounded me with glimpses of beauty when I feel lost in darkness.