The Mystical Path of Nature and the Arts
By Sonya Bennett
A world of mystery and beauty has unfolded to me as I began to walk this winter on the path to the bay above my home in Fairhope, Alabama.
In the past, I never really looked closely at a tree. And now, it seems that trees have become the focus of my walk. I have been surprised at the magnitude of detail and artistry in the microscopic spores, seeds and leaf patterns that emanate from trees. The palette of unusual colors and intriguing miniscule landscapes captivate me.
Trees take on a new glimmer, sheen and freshness in the luminosity of a misty, rain filled morning. I am astounded at the beauty of these bay trees, Oaks, Cedars, Slash Pines, and very old Magnolias.
The music in the tall Slash pines whispers down to the lower trees; a kind of ethereal wind song. I am euphoric with all of this beauty and wetness in the mist. I sense there is a kind of music played in nature that defies my sense of what a tree really is, and how we may glean from these forms information that would add to our creative impulse to replicate nature in our works of art and music.
The greater part of the phenomena of nature is concealed from us all our lives. There is just as much beauty visible to us in landscape as we are prepared to appreciate and not a grain more. A man sees only what concerns him. -Henry David Thoreau
One of the benefits from walking in the winter is to observe the effect of cold weather on people. An added ingredient is how solitary the walk is now that the temperature has dropped. It’s unusual to hear people say, “what a beautiful day!” in cold weather.
I have a Persian friend who loves each of the seasons and especially winter. She reminds me that there is unique beauty in all of the days.
This morning, my body resisted leaving my warm cocoon of a bed. My soft pillow encircled my head and I heard myself whisper, “no, no, no!” to my small dog pulling on a corner of the coverlet near the floor.
Luckily, this irresistible little dog insists on going out into nature and I have learned from her lead, invaluable lessons. With both of us fortified with coffee for me, and a dog biscuit for her, we go out into the cold.
While walking through a glade of old oaks, I was hit on the head with a plump, late falling acorn, which garnered my full attention. It seemed the giant next to me was saying ‘pay attention.’
I focused on the bark and trunk of two ordinary trees. The slash pine, a late comer with a new fern and moss-skirt, seemed to think she could vie with the mammoth oak. Her skimpy skirt could not compare with three rows of resurrection fern skirt on the huge oak.
I pulled a looking-glass from the brown leather case to study the small details of the wet moss and fern on the trees. I had thought that the color was a soft gray green, but with closer inspection I could see that the deluge of water on the trunks of the trees had caused the color to change to a muted turquoise blue, reminiscent of the Egyptian blue green found in tombs.
I studied this color very closely and saw tiny flutes that looked like a hundred marching instruments, exquisite in their design. I bent my ear near the trunk, fully expecting to hear a tree opera. I read that tiny insects swim in the flutes to drink the nectar water. Perhaps they hear the symphony.
Becoming a collector of gifts from trees, I learned from my research that trees have separate male and female flowers; some trees have a shade side for leaves and a sun side for those higher leaves which makes them sister leaves, alike but different.
This diversity in nature is akin to the teachings of Baha’u’llah about our unity and diversity in the family of man.
I found poetry and song in my tree walks this winter.
I realized that with the Blessed Beauty, Baha’u’llah, there is a kinship with nature in His glorious Hidden Words.
My favorite verse, number 33:
O My Brother!
Hearken to the delightsome words of My honeyed tongue, and
quaff the stream of mystic holiness from My sugar-shedding lips.
Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of thy heart,
and water them with the water of certitude, that the hyacinths of
My knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green in the sacred city of thy heart.”
And another favorite verse in the Baha’i Holy writings:
By the power of the Holy Spirit, working through his soul, man
is able to perceive the Divine Reality of things. All great works
of art and science are witness to this power of the Spirit.”
(Baha’i Teachings on the Arts and Science)