General Non-Fiction posted August 6, 2011

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Finding beauty and contentment

Gathering Golden Moments

by Margaret Snowdon

     Gathering Golden Moments

     Beauty can be as robust as a drum roll of thunder that heralds the long-needed rain, or as tinkling as a child's laughter, the perfection of a single rose, or the gentle glow of a candle on the face of the one you love.

     Each of nature's fragments, no matter how large or small, no matter how strong or fragile, harmonizes with the universal whole yet manifests a loveliness of its own. Beauty awaits us in the waves on the shore, patiently hushing the golden sand to sleep, in a strain of music that moves us to the verge of tears, in a waterfall tumbling from the rim of heaven. In the veins of a leaf, the exquisite geometry of a snowflake, rain-kissed leaves, a sun-glinted stream rushing over smooth pebbles and the wild flowers that watch it pass. We can find it in light filtering through the tall majestic trees, or in long ribbons of sunlight that stretch over mother earth.

      Why wait to seek beauty and contentment in some other place at some other time? It is here, now, in this fleeting fragment of time. Having the gift of sight, to enjoy the beauty in the abstract design of frost-coated branches of the trees etched against a winter dawn, in a summer sun-set, in the proud magnificence of snow-topped mountains, in a meadow full of fireflies like errant amber stars at play in the summer dusk, in the intricate artistry of a fragile, dew-spangled spider's web.

     The countryside has time for an idler and for itself, leisure even for those wayside delicacies of scenery which inform the memory of the wanderer, for vagrant ripples by the brink of the river, or for the secluded loveliness of April Violets amid the grasses. In a humble hedge you can find a whole world of hopeful life hidden amongst the tangled branches. Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Wrens and hedge Sparrows, all make their nests there, feeding on the insects and the berries, which abound amongst the hawthorn. What sights to the eye - all recipes of contentment.

     I am filled with awe when I walk by a cornfield where a myriad of joys and jewels are on display - blue scabious, purple knap-weed, scarlet poppies, and tall horse daisies mingling their colours with the ripening corn. To see the hedges festooned with trails of fluffy, old men's beard, or to simply lie on my back to look up at soft, puffy clouds floating in the dome of heaven. It’s gratifying to listen to a lark trilling as it soars high overhead, and to breathe in the sweet smell of the wild, purple orchid growing amid clumps of varicoloured milkwort and starry silverweed.

     So I say, enjoy the peace and soothing solitude. Witness the beautiful sunsets across water. Pause to watch the sun's golden lids fall asleep in the dusk. The reflected light on the hilltops, so magnificent; all shades of gold, red and brown, deepening into purple, with grey shadows at the base of the mountains. Listen to the whisper of the breeze in tall grasses, and the rustle of the leaves in the majestic trees, to the rhythm of a falling shower of summer rain, and a sudden gladness will wash over you. You will feel it filter through your senses. Let your rippling heart cascade into the sky and be content with your inner self.

     Contentment is to watch the joy on the faces of the farmers as they safely gather in the crops at the end of August. September seems to me a month of purring satisfaction, bringing contentment to my tender heart. A month of heavy morning dews, soft mists and mellow fruitfulness; daily changes to colours of the foliage of the trees. Shades of bronze, yellow, brown and flame, the banks glowing with the golden tints of bracken, and everywhere, a delicious autumn scent of fallen leaves.

     Who could help but feel content, whilst watching the changing of the colours - a pure delight to the eye. And to find those prized conkers, hard and glossy, like highly-polished fruit - gifts for my little grandson, who collects all manner of things.

     I even welcome November with a contented heart, albeit the last lingering farewell of kindly Autumn and the harsh approach of advancing Winter, when mists cover the morning landscape, veiling the woods and trees, and the fallen leaves are matted together with dampness. On clear, still nights the panorama of the sky is dotted with a million stars - a spectacular sight that brings forth contentment.

     As snowflakes fall and the festive season approaches, it is time to claim nature's decorations. Christmas would not be complete without a centre-piece of Holly. Such joy I feel, to have my children and their children, all together, to watch them open their gifts from under the tree and see the delight in their dear eyes.

     These are the memories which stand out and stand alone, the memories that loom up larger and larger in the levelling length of the years, and which, appearing neither more distant nor more old, amble amiably along in the imagination like a companionable yesterday. I would say, contentment for me stems from giving and loving, and being loved in return. I am surely blessed.

     I live life to the fullest and rejoice over all, taking time to be in awe of the beauty in petal, leaf, moss and dew-spangled web. Feel the fragrant, pulsing breeze of twilight drink deeply of anxieties and the soft fluctuations of nature all around, that lifts my spirit and washes away the grief of day. When the rain glistens on my brow, I take simple, quiet pleasure and comfort from the tranquillity.

     I ask you ... could you find a better way of returning thanks for the blessings of beauty? Don't overlook its presence or undervalue its dearness because it bears no price tag. You can no more buy it than the soft smile of spring, or a bright sunbeam.

     Look, feel, touch and wonder. The more closely you look and the more heedfully you listen, the more deeply you will care and feel more ready to face life, not as a confrontation, but as an adventure, and to embrace the whole world. Our days are not just for passing through but for living in.

     Gather golden moments while you may. Greet each day as if you had never before awakened to the world. Draw its preciousness into yourself so that you might radiate a portion to others in return.

Margaret Snowdon
August 2011

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