colorful bird sitting on tree branch in winter

The Unmasking of Beauty Within the World

In February 2021 I penned a poem on hope. I was looking for motivation and inspiration in the midst of the uncertainty that has clouded our times. Alone in a forest near my house, starting at the snowy covered trees, I reminded myself that the beauty of this world is indifferent to human affairs. It is eternal and ever present. It will provide and nourish our spirits even when we have been led astray. All that it requires is the cultivation of our attention. That we are present to the complex intricacies that make up our everyday experience.

Wonder and awe fill my being when I contemplate the grandeur and sheer mystery of our universe. I am intertwined in a myriad of interdependent relationships. Related to ancestors and species of the past, many of which I will not know or even have heard of. The human species have existed for 250,000 years in a universe that is estimated to be over 4 billion years old.

There is a kind of solace and comfort provided to me from this vantage point. A wider perspective can be uplifting and make us feel grounded. The importance and stress that we place on seemingly trivial things begin to fade away. We are all part of a much bigger web of life which will endure long after we perish.

The spotlight shines away, egotism recedes as I recognize the shared fate which bounds us all together.

As I am writing this article, a cardinal flies past my bedroom window taking refuge in a tree in my backyard. I momentarily pause, and look closely with reverence. I’ve never seen a cardinal in the winter. But then again, it may have been that I was never really paying attention to the world unfolding right in front of my eyes.

Its bright red feathers reflect against the white glow of the snow-covered tree, radiating across the sky.

Time stops. A moment of eternity. An invitation to the deeper mysteries of the world.

I don’t really know what the future holds, in many ways it is unpredictable far beyond the confines of human control. I am aware, however that the presence and attention I give to the present moment is the gateway to the beauty of the world – the path towards hope. The omnipresent light is always available to us. What we decide to focus our attention on is a choice that is within our control.

As the bird flies away into the receding horizon, I am reminded of the poetry of Emily Dickinson,

"Hope" is the thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

What gives you hope and inspiration during times when you need it most?

Let me know in the comments.

This article was originally published on my personal blog A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life – In Search of Inner Freedom

Featured Image Source: Pixabay on

21 thoughts on “The Unmasking of Beauty Within the World

  1. I too, find that attention to and a reverence for the rhythms seen in our natural world, offer the opportunity to be liberated from “the madness”.

  2. Thank you, Andrew, for sharing this incredibly rich post with us. I found myself mouthing “yes” as I read my way through it. To be able to become aware of present-moment Beauty beyond the petty concerns of our ego is truly a gift. Deep gratitude. 🙏

      1. You’re welcome, Andrew. Your post was truly wonderful to read. Whereas my false self “Art” used to find beauty or success in external circumstances (which as we know are always changing), I now find Beauty and Peace in the stable and unchanging dimension of true Self. It’s quite an amazing revelation, as you know, to not need anything to be at peace, surrounded by amazing beauty. 🙏

  3. Beautiful! Writing like this gives me hope and inspiration. I love your lines, “Time stops. A moment of eternity. An invitation to the deeper mysteries of the world.”

    And the perspective that going outdoors brings, especially to hike a trail or a mountain, has always restored my sense of balance and gratitude for the planet that holds us for our brief time here.

  4. You asked an interesting question – “What gives you hope and inspiration during times when you need it most?”
    I see evidence of God’s love for us all around me. From the bluebirds in the Rock City birdhouse outside my kitchen window to the beautiful colors of the sunset, God’s presence in this world breaks through the chaos and ugliness we sometimes focus on.
    So, my answer to your question is this: God gives me hope when I need it most, and God reminds me of His love and presence in my life by sending me little “God Winks” every day, just when I need Him most.

  5. This is so true and a great reminder. Indeed the times have been hard but there is always an overpowering sense of Hope, always resilient and shining through dark days.

  6. Lovely post with an equally lovely poem.
    I draw strength from my family’s unwavering support when all seems hopeless. I get inspiration from my steadfast faith in a higher power and a firm belief that “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. However long the tunnel maybe.”
    Best wishes.

  7. What a beautiful post! You transported me to a window, looking out at snowy trees and a bright red cardinal, surprising me with thundering color among the white serenity. I really appreciate the details in your writing.
    Recently I had a situation at work, where some colleagues and myself were trying to cause a big change, and failed miserably… When we met with our supervisor, who ruthlessly informed us of our failure, it really felt like a devastatingly hopeless moment. What motivated me then, to keep going (and this might sound goofy lol) was thinking of the Star Wars movies, and how the rebellion didn’t succeed on their first try! It took time and many attempts before they were able to bring down the empire — but they never gave up and they eventually succeeded. Rogue One is my favorite in the series, because of how they display this concept of Hope.

Leave a Reply