Tuesday, September 10, 2013

your unfolding life

"Beauty isn't all about just nice, loveliness like. Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life."

- John O'Donohue from a radio show, On Being, where he was taped shortly before his passing. The show was titled, "The Inner Landscape of Beauty"

Yesterday, I spent some time posting all sorts of wonderful things on my other site, Canadian Poetries. Have a look if you have time. Of particular interest to readers of Calm Things, will be this piece by Kathleen Wall, titled Beauty Matters. It's got me thinking about this act of turning one's back on darkness - on searching for light, instead. And reminds me of the criticism that has for so long been levelled at Jane Austen's work - that she ignored the political landscape, the Napoleonic wars.

From an article written in 2007 on the BBC site:

"I think she betrays her time and I'm always gob smacked by what she ignored," says Celia Brayfield, author and lecturer at Brunel University. "She focused on such a narrow strain of human reality. Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the Napoleonic War going on at the time when she was writing, she doesn't mention it."

Other scholars have gone on to show that of course Austen was aware, and etc etc.

There are enough news sites out there in the world. There are enough people on Facebook posting about the failings of our governments, our leaders. I think it's okay to be one of those people who are seeking light, seeking beauty. Trying to add to the beauty of the world. Trying to remember that there is beauty.

A couple of evenings ago, I dragged our daughter outside to stand under the apple tree. In the light. (To me, she IS light...). I wanted a photograph of her surrounded by light. And this was the result:

I like the idea that beauty is a kind of homecoming. So yes, we exist in this world that is complicated, and at times very dark and ugly and difficult, cruel and wasteful. It's not dismissing all that, or negating it, or living in a bubble, or betraying our time, or ignoring what's going on in Syria, or the colony collapse of bees, or what Stephen Harper is up to, or that 9-11 occurred, or that many children didn't have an adequate breakfast this morning. I'm very aware of all that. I'm deeply aware.

But I won't turn my back on beauty either. I just won't. Because that's also a betrayal, isn't it?


  1. Gorgeous post Shawna. Agreed, turning our backs on beauty is also betrayal. Thank you for this!

  2. I've just finished reading Paula Byrne's new biography, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, in which she looks carefully and deeply at the objects owned by or associated with JA and finds a woman full of humour, lively engagement with the world, and a keen sense of the political. (The machinations around her decision to dedicate a book to the Prince Regent, for whom she felt contempt...)

    The apples are divine!

    1. i loved that book :) And thanks for the comment, Theresa.

  3. Such gorgeous photos and thoughts, dear Shawna! I love your portraits of Chloe...she really is the light.


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