My youngest son and I recently spent a day in Vancouver while my oldest son was doing some scuba diving. A morning trip to the Vancouver Maritime Museum was followed by a delicious repast at a Kitsilano Thai restaurant while we decided what to do next. Before my son and I finished our lunch, we had decided on a walk through Pacific Spirit Regional Park, where we expected to find trees and trails, serenity and scenery. The west coast of British Columbia is replete with stunning greenery, so the expectation was an obvious one. If we had stopped at expectation, though, we would have missed the actual experience of the forested environs. Expectation may have prepared us, but it would not usher us past preconceptions; for that, we would need to be our own guides.
The maps at the trailheads and intersections helped us find our way as they did for all the other urbanites seeking some recreational respite, but they did not lead us to the tranquillity we sought. Maps and signs will not do this for us. Having set out with some intentionality, though, we did prise out some of the many gems to be found here. The grove of vine-covered trees in the above photo was one of them. Hopefully, the photo conveys the sense of the place and not just the beauty of it.
The perception of beauty, some argue, is an evolutionary throwback selected through ages of successful survival. On the other hand, I would contend that our perception of beauty, austerity, and wonder is a mirror. There’s a book I read that says that the architect of this planet left a signature on every facet of what I see around me. It would make sense then, that something in me would be built to recognise this signature. Perceiving the signature, though, is not enough. This is where the mirror comes in.
Witnessing something beautiful and wondrous in this mirror awakens something within us. Desire rises up. Desire, though, exists in lack, but this lack does not make the mirror a cheat. It is an invitation. Will we bravely gaze upon our lack in the mirror and see the only One who will ever fill it?