“Elder Devotion” – Nature Park, Weaverville, NC/Photography by Gaye Abbott
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature. The assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. “Rachel Carson
With so much violence and unrest going on among humans, I have recently gravitated towards consciously finding the beauty in everyday ordinary experiences. This soothes my broken heart, even for just a moment in time, and releases me into a calmer more peaceful inner being and appreciation.
Knowing that beauty is everywhere reminds me to be more kind, compassionate and trusting. To see and create beauty and find joy wherever it beckons. To be in nature often.
The couple pictured in the image above immediately took my attention as I walked the trail of our local Nature Park just a few days ago. The first interaction was a simple ‘good day’ and smiles as we passed each other by. When I had walked a bit more there they were again in front of me now, slow movers enjoying the moments in nature and with each other. I saw that they were holding hands.
A smile lit my face as I followed them down the path where we veered off in different directions. I allowed the feelings they evoked in me to come to the surface – joy at seeing them connected in this way, the beauty of elder companions enjoying each other and nature, and also some sadness that I did not have a devoted partner at this stage of my life.
Not thinking I would see them again I was finishing my walk and almost back to my car when I came face to face with them on the path and took the opportunity to tell them how much I appreciated seeing them holding hands and enjoying each others company. From that moment on we were connected for a period of time as they responded to my first question about how long they had been together. Over 56 years married and 63 years together having met at a high school dance so many decades ago. Love at first sight.
This led to a full in depth conversation as I learned they were in the area on vacation, originally born in the New England area. We covered so many topics in our brief conversation laced with laughter and the joy of simply being alive and in nature, as well as touching a bit on what is unfolding in the world and in our own country.
Simply grateful to be able to walk out in nature hand in hand with a beloved devoted partner. They were both articulate, present, and engaging. As we parted ways I continued to smile at the simple, ordinary beauty that I had witnessed and been a part of that day.
How often do we pass by ordinary beauty and opportunities for connection that can lift us from despair?
“ORDINARY BEAUTY” will be a series of short weekly blog posts through the end of this year on finding and witnessing ordinary beauty through the experience and wisdom of elderhood. Stay tuned!
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Gaye Abbott, Wildly Free Elder, 10/13/23