I’ve been settling into my new more permanent home and running move-related errands: opening bank accounts, registering my car, finding a vet, getting a landline and more.
Normally I would balance these exhausting and often frustrating tasks with the calming rhythms of weaving. With my looms still in California, I find myself sitting at my desk looking out the window and listening to the birds.
When I focus on the foreground, I notice lots of activity in the out-of-control wisteria. A brown butterfly with white spots keeps returning to a particular branch. A small bird — a phoebe maybe — flies to and from the nest near the window. I watch two woodpeckers chase each other and am delighted when a ruby-throated hummingbird shows up.
When I shift my focus and look into the distance, I see the Appalachian Mountains and one peak in particular. Today the peak stands out clearly against the blue sky; the other day it was hidden behind pre-rain whiteness.
Sometimes as I stare out the window, I feel like I’m not doing anything. But actually, I am allowing my soul to catch up with my body. There’s a softness to this landscape. The blues and greens of the sky, the trees and the mountains are soothing.
In Beauty and the Soul, Piero Ferrucci discusses how beauty “heals our emotional wounds, lightens the weight of our worries, guides us in our confusion — and, to some extent, […] can also heal, or at least soothe, our physical suffering.” Among other examples, he mentions a study conducted with patients recovering from a common type of gall bladder surgery (cholecystectomy) in a suburban Philadelphia hospital. Half the patients had windows with a view of a brick wall; the other half looked out on some deciduous trees. The patients with the tree-view had shorter hospital stays, took fewer pain medications and had fewer negative comments from the nurses. Another study showed that photographs of natural landscapes have a positive effect on cardiac patients after surgery.
I am not recovering from surgery, but I have undergone a major uprooting. Without realizing it, I have prescribed myself regular doses of beauty. The particular beauty of this environment has become my medicine during this challenging transition.
My invitation to you: Can you spend some time soaking in the particular beauty of your environment — be it looking out your window, enjoying a photograph, spending time outside or in some other way? How do you feel when you give yourself this gift? I’d love to hear.