Finding beauty everywhere, everywhere, everywhere – Shaw Local

Finding beauty everywhere, everywhere, everywhere – Shaw Local

About this time every year, the summer beauty in the Illinois Valley overwhelms me.

I find beauty here in every season. But there is something about vegetation at its apex, that makes my heart burst with joy.

Drive down Dee Bennett Road between Utica and Ottawa and you will see what I mean.

Various species of grass, cattails, wildflowers and more explode everywhere, not to mention the Illinois River off to the side.

And that’s just for starters. As someone who was fortunate to grow up with a family that lived in the country, I learned early on to live in harmony with the Spirit of the Land. This concept is sometimes hard for others to understand; and I might be a bit excessive in my sentimental attachment to formative places, but it is why part of me still cringes every time I see new subdivisions, fast food restaurants or wind turbines popping up across the prairie.

Don’t get me wrong, I value wind energy; but the thought of one of these turbines someday going up on the land that my ancestors nurtured and harvested is very difficult for me to embrace. That land is sacred, and the spirits of my ancestors remain present. It is why, nearly eight years after my grandmother’s death, my heart still aches and gravitates to her de ella property every time I drive by it, even though a new tenant lives there now and takes wonderful care of it.

Last year, I had the opportunity to stop at Grandma’s and walk around the yard where I had played alone and with my cousins, while growing up. There are so many places in that yard that speak to my soul, it is kind of haunting. I treasure those moments I get to step on that ground and experience my whole being in harmony in a way that is far beyond the ability of words or art or anything to express.

I don’t think, though, just because I grew up in that type of environment, I am able to recognize beauty better than anyone else. The ability to have our breath taken away by beauty is ingrained within us, because we were formed from Beauty itself. And what I find beautiful, might be different from what others find beautiful.

Still, I’ve made it a practice recently to think “Wow! Beautiful! Thank you!” every time I see some flower in full bloom that strikes my fancy… the colors, the shape, the size… the endless variety…

Our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch are miracles themselves. They guide us through life and protect us in incomprehensible ways. They are also the touchstones we have been given to experience and appreciate beauty in all of their forms.

While nature puts on a grand visual show this time of year, beauty can be sensed in every way imaginable. And it is more abundant and overflowing than we even realize in our usual daily routines.

This morning, as I sat on the deck and closed my eyes, I did so with an intention to deepen my listening capability. I heard the usual sounds: birds waking up and trains roaring through in the distance. But, for whatever reason, my sense of hearing was more acute, and for a brief moment I heard various sounds around me in a strange symphonic harmony. And I was part of it.

With all the distress in the world today, it is easy to get sidetracked from intentionally appreciating the beauty in our lives and the world in which we live. But beauty is our birthright. And every day our Creator rolls out the red carpet to dazzle our senses in new ways.

Yes, we need the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the tongue to taste, the nose to smell, and the fingers to touch.

But without a heart ready, willing and open to see the fingerprint of the Divine beyond our senses, all these things around us are like ‘a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.’

This week, seek beauty everywhere, and while you are at it, practice being the beauty you were made to be.

  • Spirit Matters is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.


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