Excerpt: Beauty and the New Story


From the chapter entitled “The Essences of the Web of Life”

This particular piece came to me as I was studying some basics of what’s called “Ecoliteracy,” which is a holistic approach to understanding natural systems. From that, I came up with certain essences of the Universe that were reflected in the Web of Life, including Flow (the flow of matter and energy), Relation, Creation and Destruction, and others.

But I noticed something missing: in all the scientific literature, there is little (if any) mention of how beautiful the Universe and the Web of Life are, little attention to how I became quiet within as I looked at pictures of deep space from the Hubble telescope, or sat silently in a grove of trees, letting go of thoughts.

So this piece came to me as one of the Essences of the Web of Life . . . and I was delighted when I later came across a section in one the books by James Lovelock (the scientist who came up with what became known as the Gaia hypothesis) where he mentioned the importance of beauty—and how scientists tend to disregard it, to our personal and collective peril.


From pp. 72—74:

.And the Web of Life
.        brought beauty into its creations.

.It wove symmetrical tapestries
.                within each being.
.        It splashed perfumes and colors
.        across fields of flowers
.                and groves of trees
.        that insects might more quickly
.                find their nectars.

.It purified the waters
.        with the music of creeks
.                and waterfalls.
.        It gave melody to the birds
.                and calls to the animals,
.        as they sang warnings and welcomes
.                to each other.

.It wove tastes and smells into plants.
.        Some bore sweetness,
.                inviting animals to partake
.                of their offerings of food
.                        in exchange for the scattering of seeds;
.        others bore bitterness,
.                warning of poisons
.                and whispering of medicines
.                        held within.

.It created soft furs,
.        strong, smooth feathers and scales,
.        and warm nests and dens
.        that its children might find comfort
.                and thrive.

.Thus the Web of Life reflects
.        the Essence of Beauty:

.That beauty shall be bound throughout
.        the Web of Life, pointing the way
.        toward harmony, usefulness,
.                and mystery.

.In the delicate fronds of the ferns
.        glowing green in the forests,
.                beauty shall be found.

.In the grace of the lioness
.        chasing down the gazelle
.        as they dance the circle
.        of birth and death,
.                beauty shall be found.

.In the magnificent violence
.                of the thunderstorm and the erupting volcano—
.        and also in the tranquil morning mists
.        across an infant African savanna—
.                beauty shall be found.

.Beauty shall be found throughout
.        the Web of Life,
.                for it is woven throughout
.                the Universe.

.And one day the Universe shall stand upright
.                and behold itself,
.        breathless in silent awe.


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