Noticing the Beauty Before You

Written and Voiced by Sarah Louise Woodford, Canon for Communications & Media.

My morning commute from New Haven to The Commons takes me through a long sprawl of backroads before I pull onto State Highway 15. Then, the drive becomes even more of a pleasure as I pass by woodlands, thickets, and groves until I’m guided by the traprock mountains of Meriden to my final destination.

The trees in Connecticut are unlike the ones I grew up with in Ohio. There, you encounter rotund oaks and corpulent maples a few hundred years old. But unlike Ohio trees, the trees here are survivors. Connecticut was once farmland, a vast sprawl of fields hemmed in by stone walls. But when farming moved to the Midwest, the trees in Connecticut grew back, reclaiming the fields they had once lost to crop and livestock.

The drive is usually uneventful and rather soothing as houses and wooded thickets silently slip past the window, but then it happens—always when I don’t have the time to spare. The red of the car taillights ahead come closer and closer together until we all stop. Giant trucks and woodchippers loom in the distance and we in cars must form a single line so highway maintenance can happen. I have little patience as I wait for other drivers to move over. I am frustrated. I am worried about being late.

Recently, I noticed a beautiful thicket on my drive—the trees were grouped together on a hill with such pleasant precision and the stream that cut through the hill’s bottom sparkled in early spring sunlight. I gasped; what beauty fostered by a quiet, persistent resilience! How had I never encountered it before?

Then I realized why: this was the spot where most of the highway maintenance had taken place! Not only was it hidden behind large construction vehicles, it was also hidden because of my own frustration and worry.

There is so much beauty, so much resilience, that I miss when I fail to notice the things that are important in my life. In noticing, I gain back the awareness of God’s goodness. The goodness is always there, sparkling and ready for me.

On that day, the trees I passed felt particularly vibrant, and as I neared The Commons, the mountains of Meriden, broad and shelf-like, felt like an embrace, guiding me as I turned onto the exit ramp and moved towards my final destination.

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