Here by Puget Sound, each morning begins with dove song. A low coo. An echoing answer. Suddenly the bright, dipping song of the chickadee. On my deck, our little dog closes his eyes to slits, content to soak up the sunshine. But I can’t close my eyes. After an interminably rainy grey winter, the cherry tree’s sweet blossoms are intoxicating.
Above my head, the sudden thrum of hummingbird wings stirs more than the air.
In Elizabeth Von Arnim’s book, The Enchanted April, four women flee a miserable London spring for a castle in coastal Italy. In London, an inner chill and ennui has settled deep within the two main characters. No one cares for them, and they have ceased to care about anything more than their daily duties. But, once they fling open the villa’s shutters to the glittering sea and the scented garden, something deep down begins to stir.
I try to encounter The Enchanted April every year. The story painstakingly documents the inner journey of each character, and I find myself asking: How does beauty change us, if at all?
Von Arnim’s characters spend much of their time in solitude. After waking to the first beautiful morning, “they left off talking. They ceased to mention heaven. They were just cups of acceptance.” And though they rarely congregate, each character is in constant, silent conversation all day long. Real transformation occurs.
Beauty awakens questions that have been sleeping within us. It fills us with inarticulable longing for fuller engagement. Sometimes an encounter with beauty seizes us with the sudden desire to change our lives. We can’t construct an awakening; we can’t schedule it. Each of us will be gripped by something different. For me this morning, it was the thrum of wings above my head–I feel shaken, startled even, by the sheer magnificence of that sound. What is it that it calls to inside me?
Throughout the week, Lindsay and I will continue to intersect with the question of how beauty changes us. Through Friday’s blogpost and our daily #mindfulmoment, we’ll be considering what these encounters tell us about ourselves. If you are on Instagram, hashtag #mindfulmoment and tag Each_Holy_Hour. We’d love to see what moves you. Also, help us deepen the conversation, by weighing in on Facebook or in the comment section of our blog.
Here’s to cultivating wonder,