So begins the first lines of poet John Keats long poem Endymion, an ode to the immortal love of moon goddess Selene for a a mortal shepherd: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever :Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness…”
In these doldrum days of grey muffled skies and old crunchy snow and actually longing for the blizzards of the east coast today, Missoula can feel, well…dreary. When the sun glimmers from behind a cloud and illuminates Lolo Peak to the southwest, our hearts quicken and a smile glimmers. Then, it’s gone.
So I turn to contemplating beauty and what it is to be “forever.” When I clicked my camera in amazing good luck to reveal the silvery lightning upon black waters and the concentric rings as the western grebe glided across Southern California’s Morro Bay last November, I can contemplate that photograph as long as I want, and yes, the “loveliness increases.”
These still short and dark winter days of Montana can be challenging. We can turn inwards to reflect, turn outwards to share soup and conversations, and we can muse upon all that is beautiful in our past. I feel the push-pull of joy in companionship and conversation and a desire to hole up like a curled up bear in a den. When I took the photo of the grebe (that could be a cross between a Clark’s and a western grebe) I watched this bird of great fishing prowess swim alone, its’ red eye glinting in the light of oncoming evening. And then, another grebe entered the scene:
The birds conversed in their language and in their meeting, another moment of forever loveliness ensued. Such beauty there is in the companionship of a friend, a lover, or a beloved family member. We laugh or muse or cry or simply “be” with another, and when there’s a moment so so rich and wondrous, we turn to the other and in that sharing, the joy skyrockets. That can happen in so many ways. Of course, I think of nature, of a deepening sunset or an awakening dawn; of clouds shaped like geese in formation; of an elk stepping out of the forest and looking into our eyes; a spruce grouse five feet away in a British Columbia forest; and of course–always for me, the kingfisher anytime, anywhere..
” A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
What beauty do you find and hold in your heart forever? Every day offers that possibility, either in solitude where our minds center and our spirits open to the universe, or in the harmonious convergence of a companion.