LeAnne Martin
Beauty and the Beholder

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Enjoy the Day

I'm taking today off. Summer is slipping by fast and will soon be over. Today I want to capture some summer beauty before it's gone. 

Enjoy the day and look for the beauty around you. And thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Beauty of Words

Words are powerful. They can carry beauty or ugliness, joy or sorrow. They can build up or tear down.

Some of my favorite words come from fiction, nonfiction, essays, poetry, the Bible. I'll share those passages here in future posts. But sometimes my favorite words come in the form of an email or a card from a family member. Sometimes they are spoken over the phone or face to face by a friend. 

The right word at the right time can bring a smile, brighten a mood, touch a heart. Maybe it's because I'm a writer and speaker, maybe it's because I'm a sensitive soul, but I try to be a person who has the right word at the right time. I try to handle words with care. I want to be known as a person who uses words to help, not hurt. I don't always succeed, of course. Sometimes I wish I'd swallowed some words instead of letting them go. But when I do say or write something that lifts someone up, I am lifted up too. And that to me is just one facet of the beauty of words.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Island Memories

Last week we spent a few days at Jekyll Island. The Jekyll Island Club was established in the late 1800s as a club for millionaires. Fortunately, you don't have to be a millionaire to stay there now. 

The island is state-owned, with only a small portion of it settled. Without new construction, the gorgeous old live oaks (Georgia's state tree) are protected. In fact, the oldest live oak on the island is just a quarter-mile's walk from the Club hotel. The more I write about beauty, the more I realize I am drawn to trees. I made certain that we visited that old live oak. We spent a lot of time under its huge canopy, looking at how the light streamed through its massive branches, touching the Spanish moss hanging down, and taking pictures by one of several limbs now resting on the ground.

Throughout our stay, we walked and pedaled through the 240-acre historic district. It was quiet and peaceful--not crowded at all. We toured two of the restored cottages and ate dinner in a third. We stayed in the newly-renovated Club hotel annex. We visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where we learned about the dangers these turtles face and the necessity for their nests and hatchlings to be protected. We lingered in the hospital where we saw injured turtle patients being rehabilitated for return to the wild. My daughter fell in love with a terrapin hatchling there. It was hard to pull her away from its tank.

Between the historic buildings, the walking trails, the beach, the turtles, the quiet, the unhurried pace, and the live oaks with their Spanish moss, our vacation was full of memories of beauty. We're already planning to go back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chapel Jewels

I've got chapels on my mind today. Last week, I toured a stunning chapel on the campus of Agnes Scott College. Named for Julia Thompson Smith, this gem was designed by Maurice Jennings Architects, a firm that upholds the principles of Organic Architecture as espoused by Frank Lloyd Wright and by Fay Jones. (Take a look at Fay Jones' famous Thorncrown Chapel). What I loved about this chapel was the soaring ceilings, the arches that appear everywhere, the abundance of natural light, the cypress wood found in Georgia, the reverent hush. I loved that the windows seemed to coax the gardens just outside into the building. And I loved that it has been set down on campus in such a way as to look like it has been there for decades, when in fact it was just dedicated a few months ago.

Later today, I'm touring Faith Chapel on Jekyll Island. Build for the Jekyll Island Club in 1904, this chapel's design is "early meetinghouse" with Gothic elements. At the west end is a signed example of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. My daughter has never seen a Tiffany window. I'm glad that we'll get to see her first one together.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Sun

Getting up with the sun is not something I especially like to do. I've noticed lately, though, that the sun is making its presence known through the bedroom window at 6 a.m. And I'll admit that there's something about letting the sun wake you up. It's like a silent continual snooze button--gradually getting brighter until you need a pillow to cover your face if you want to keep sleeping.

Lately I have also taken to walking the dog in the mornings when it's cool outside. The sun is up by then but it's still soft. Drowsy and not quite bright. Sunlight falls on the tops of trees and shrubs but doesn't yet dispel the shadows underneath. We can see and even smell the freshness of the new day. The potential.

A couple of hours later, the sunlight shines in full force, making a walk anywhere impossibly hot. But that's what summer is about--at least where I live. If you're brave enough, you cover yourself with sunblock, grab your sunglasses, drink plenty of water. And look for shady spots along the way.

In addition to light and heat, the sun also gives us beauty. Sunrises and sunsets are among my favorite moments of the day. I also love to see its rays filtered through the clouds or the trees.

The sun provides beauty in another way. Because of its light, we are able to see the rest of creation: the blue sky, the flowing river, the pretty flowers in the garden, our loved one's faces. We also need it to lift our moods and keep us healthy.

Now that summer is in full swing, it's easy to take sunlight for granted. But without it, where would we be? Where would beauty be?

Time to go for a walk.

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