O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
Have you ever journeyed to a destination – perhaps a mountain peak, a lake, or a forest – and been awestruck – energized by the view? Perhaps you stood there taking it all in and reveling in the beauty of the moment. Maybe time stood still just then. Maybe your eyes drank in the sight and recorded the details in your brain. And in times of hardship, you’ve conjured up that image. Or maybe you were inspired to write a poem or a song or capture that beauty in a photograph, sketch, or painting.
In 1893, when Katharine Bates, a scholar, professor, and prolific writer from Massachusetts, climbed Pikes Peak, the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, she was inspired to write a poem which we now know as the lyrics of “America, The Beautiful.” In her journal, she says,
“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak.. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”
This year, Fourth of July 2020 feels a bit different. Across the nation, fireworks, parades, beaches, concerts, and parties have been canceled or closed. Some of the traditions that we’ve grown to cherish and even take for granted may be missing. There’s a feeling of loss, maybe even frustration. “When will we go back to normal?” is a common question in people’s minds.
I don’t have the answer to that question.
But maybe this year, it’s time to do something different. Perhaps, we can take inspiration from Katherine Bates and look to nature. Perhaps instead of the boom of fireworks, we’ll listen to the night songs of the chirping crickets, honking tree frogs, and spring peepers. Perhaps, we’ll rediscover the wonder of staring into the expansive night sky. Or we’ll allow ourselves to be bedazzled by a glorious sunset on a lake. Are there ever any two sunsets that are the same? And when was the last time you appreciated the firefly light show in your own backyard? Perhaps by opening our eyes and ears to the simpler, every day, easy to overlook beauty all around us, a deep gratitude and appreciation will well up… and, like the author of this celebratory poem, we too will find a way to express our joy in a way that touches the world around us, that inspires, that unites…
Happy Birthday, America! From the Happy New Beginnings Team.
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea