I was recently recommending to my friend, Seth Kahan, a book about a subject that both of us are interested in: finding beauty in everyday things, places, nature, animals, as well as creative pursuits, life, community and even death.
The book is called Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life, edited by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (Scribner, 1996). It is a collection of over 600 short “readings” from different authors. When you’re feeling run down or dispirited, this is a wonderful book to dip into. It finds wonder and magic in the simplest things, as if one was a child again.
Here’s a passage taken at random about, of all things, washing dishes:
“When you have thoroughly explored one dish, pick up another and explore it with this same sense of newness. Feel the sensations that come from the object in your hands; the perfect roundess of the bowl, the delicate weight of a wineglass, the delightful balance of fork or spoon, each time realizing more fully the potential of your sense of touch.” (Bettina Vittel in A Taste of Heaven and Earth, p. 236.)
That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon, our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days….[When you travel] to be sure, there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in an icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come, so too will they fall away. In the end, you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much clearer, so much happier, and so much better a peson that all the risk and hardship will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge and wisdom you have gained. (Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son, p. 259).
Napped half the day.
(The Essential Haiku ed. By Robert Hass, p.263)
The most wonderful thing was when I went to Amazon to get the title and price of the book for my friend, I found that it was on sale, second-hand, for the grand sum of one cent.
One cent for such richness!
Now that is the the most beautiful book deal in the world!
For other posts in this series: