The flower is itself. The light is itself. The silence is itself. I am myself. All perhaps illusion, but no matter. For illusion is the shadow of reality [Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander]
A few months ago I had a dream that I was standing on a cliff next to my home and I could see a tsunami approaching that was so high it would engulf me and my home, yet I was struck still by the beauty of the frothy bits on the top of the wave.
It felt like becoming nothing in the presence of perfect beauty – like this poem by Sappho –
When I was taking Dan to school this morning, he suddenly shouted ‘Dappled light!’ when he saw some created by the tree leaf shadows and the sun. It reminded me of one of the few poems I remember from school which I quite like –
Pied Beauty Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)
GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: