Landscapes – vast library of literature

By Dave Henning / October 16, 2022

“Landscapes are a vast library of literature.  And the library contains many genres like worship, memory, play, movement, meeting, exchange, power, production, home, and community. . . . [A] sacred place is not chosen, it chooses.” – Anne Whiston Spirn, renowned landscape architect

In Chapter 13 (“Make Beautiful Spaces: The Footpath of Place”) of The Beauty Chasers, Timothy Willard stresses that feeling beauty creates an encounter we take in with our senses.  Thus, it’s not just a passing experience.  Furthermore, Timothy observes, feeling beauty moves us throughout life.  Also, it connects our exportation of the very real world around us with the very real world inside us.

However, the author underscores, through his love for the outside world he’s learned he must actually go outside.  Therefore, Tim needs to push away from the routine of going forth between man-made buildings.  Hence, he must step out in the rain occasionally, walk the hills during a storm.  Because, Timothy states:

“If I don’t, I will not hear the language of the landscape, the language of beauty.  And if I isolate myself from other people, and from trees, and hills, and mountains long enough my ears will close and I will become deaf to the language.  I will live in a muted world of my own.”

In conclusion, the author returns to that time before the beginning of creation.  A time when God hovered over the chaos, breathed His words of beauty over time and space, and pressed His fingerprints upon our reality.  As a result, everything we interact with in this world points to God’s first strokes of wonder.  Thus, the world contains aspects of God’s excellencies and His beautiful holiness.

Also, just as the earth’s symmetry and form come together in harmony to give us a cathedral of light and air, a designer or architect gives us patterns unique to the human experience.

Yet, in our modern world, the author argues, we’ve alienated ourselves from the numinous wonders of God’s creation.  And we also neglect the structures we rush to build.  All in the name of progress.

Today’s question: Do you see landscapes as a vast library of literature?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the October Short Meditation, “For the wonder of each hour”

About the author

Dave Henning

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