Being put in my place

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2004

When it comes to breathtaking beauty, awesome views and the sheer wonder of it all, you really can’t beat Mother Nature, can you?

Not that mankind hasn’t come up with some spectacular achievements along the way. The pyramids of Egypt, the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore: all amaze us as feats of artistry and engineering that do credit to human ingenuity (not to mention the blood, sweat and tears of the laborers involved in their construction).

Still, it was the awesome natural beauty she beheld in Colorado – not man’s latest engineering feat – that spurred Katherine Lee Bates to pen the words, &uot;Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain…&uot;

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I’ve stood in some of the places where Bates once stood and gazed at the glorious Rocky Mountains soaring above me; I’ve walked along meandering mountain streams in Tennessee and watched the ever-changing colors of the waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast. Those times brought me a sense of peace and joy that I can always return to in my memories.

Sometimes those moments come upon me most unexpectedly, in the midst of an otherwise mundane day. On the way out to my truck, riotous arrays of butterflies flit and dance about our butterfly bushes and cause me to smile.

I go out at night to feed my pets, gaze up at the night sky and find the stars impossible to count.

My &uot;Mother Nature moments&uot; remind me of who is really in charge of it all, and it is not me or you or President Bush or (heavens be praised) Osama bin Laden and his henchmen.

I’ve been reading a book, &uot;Seeing God in the Ordinary&uot;. The author, Michael Frost, encourages the reader to open his or her eyes and &uot;see the various ways God’s hand is revealed in our world and our lives.&uot;

Certainly, one of those ways is through God’s creation, and not just the dramatic and spectacular moments; dancing butterflies, blooming camellias, the intriguing spider spinning its web outside my back door all speak volumes to my soul.

Frost includes a quote from a letter written by artist Vincent Van Gogh to his brother, Theo: &uot;All nature seems to speak. I cannot understand why everybody does not see it or feel it; nature or God does it for everyone who has eyes and ears and a heart to understand.&uot;

As Frost writes in his book, our enjoyment of natural wonders comes from our awareness they put us in our place, &uot;a place we know we really belong.&uot;

Today, I hope each of us discovers the joy of being put in our place.

Angie Long is a Lifestyles writer and columnist for The Greenville Advocate. She may be contacted at home by phone at 382-5145 or (best bet!) by e-mail at