"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Discovering the Beautiful in the Basics

By Micky Wolf
For most of our married life, my beloved and I have made the annual trek to a tree farm to select and choose the “perfect Christmas tree”.

In years past, our children looked forward to these delightful adventures, knowing that as soon as they were old enough to walk and maneuver uneven or bumpy terrain, they were an important part of the family experience. They are now married, but wanted to continue the tradition with us. We are delighted, and will do so as long as we are able-bodied.

One of the most interesting aspects of our tree-seeking is that no two ever look alike. True, they belong to the same genus. Yet each is special in its own way. We’ve had soft, long-needle beauties, blues, and deep-greens. And, in between, a few surprises for sure.

Aside from that, some have been tall and narrow, others short and wide. Then there were those that looked perfect in the field—until we wrestled them into the stand only to discover a hole here, an empty spot there. Nevertheless, each, when decorated, turned out to be the best Christmas tree ever with its own unique personality.

Neither of us will ever forget the year we sat on the floor—me in tears, my beloved baffled—as we tried to figured out how to minimize a HUGE gap through more than half the mid-section of one pine. How could we have missed THAT?

Then I had a brainstorm. What if we removed some of lower branches, drilled holes in the blank places of the trunk, and inserted the transplant limbs? A few well-hidden guy-wires for stability and we were in business. It worked. So well, in fact, nobody was the wiser.

So, here we were—Christmas 2015. What would we discover this year?

As we raised this one after securing the trunk in the stand, we stood back to check the alignment. And then we marveled at what we were seeing. Beautiful. Basic. Absent any of our special decorations, this one was near perfection. Deep, dark, rich green. Dense, thick needles covering an abundance of shaped, upright limbs. Splendid in a way we wanted to savor and appreciate.

Since it had been bundled for a couple of days following our latest great adventure to the tree farm, we wanted to give it plenty of time to relax before we dressed it for the Christmas Season. In the meantime, we would pass by, pause, and enjoy its uncluttered beauty on more than one occasion.

When we succumb to the belief that it is necessary to mask what we believe is too plain or simple in order to create something beautiful—in some cases adding layer upon layer—we risk missing the opportunity to experience beauty that exists in the most basic of form. That is a truth that applies not only to things of nature, but to you and me as well.  

Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t decorate our Christmas trees and homes with festive lights and twinkling bulbs. Or smooth cosmetics onto our skin or dress in clothes that shimmer and sparkle.

It simply means taking time to savor and appreciate the basics. The unfettered. The unadorned loveliness that exists all around us, waiting to be discovered with our natural eyes and the eyes of our hearts.

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