“Just put your love into your eyes and just look at the world with that gaze and that’s what contemplation is about, really. It’s learning how to find that gaze in yourself and to put it in the world.” ~ Marilyn Nelson via On Being
Finding that gaze is what it means to walk the beauty way.
What our culture considers to be beautiful seems to me to be too narrowly defined. Through the practice of contemplative photography, I’ve redefined and expanded my experience of beauty by discovering it in the most ordinary, mundane moments and subjects – the way the morning light falls on my couch, in two twigs crossed over each other on the ground, in the ice formations on my car window.
So, I resonate with this description of the “Beauty Way” from the Dineh (Navajo) tribe.
“The Beauty way simultaneously describes a way of being, a way of viewing the world, and one’s worldview. As a way of being, the Beauty Way is participatory and engaged. One’s body is tuned to resonate, to respond to the subtleties of that which carries beauty.” ~ Laura Sewall, Sight and Sensibility: The Ecopsychology of Perception
Be Open to that which Carries Beauty
Recently, while away on vacation, I practiced walking the beauty way through the desert southwest. The archetypal landscape of the desert required that I be still and quiet long enough to hear what it had to say; to see its beauty. Many think of the desert as barren, yet its subtleties carry beauty. There are stories there if we take the time to listen.
To walk in beauty means you are open to seeing beauty in everything; you are open to the stories. Your definition of beauty is not tied to perfection or surface appearance. Instead, it sees integrity and wholeness in everything. That is not to say that everything is beautiful. Those who walk the beauty way also see where the natural beauty has been desecrated or covered up, for example, in polluted rivers.
Most of the time, though, we just miss the beauty that is hidden in plain sight. I share this profound and moving blessing on what it means to walk in beauty.
Walking In Beauty (Blessing)
Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me, I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body. I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.
via DK Matai
May you walk in beauty today and every day.