Finding Our Own Place of Beauty

Dear Reader:

Every time Carol and I taught a Social Studies workshop we reminded the teachers that there are four components of history: Place, Time, People, and Stories.….in that chronological order.

Life, as we know it on earth, began with ‘Place.” It was the first thing God created…a landscape so diverse and dramatic, that it dominated even the wild, raw, bleak, but overwhelmingly beautiful, landscape of Western Ireland. God created a place for all living organisms on earth…plant and animal. Nothing and no one was left out.

…Until man arrived in this perfect place of beauty….a planet he would call home. And over time it would be the people who would tell the stories of their lives on this home planet and find creative ways to pass them down to us today. History is simply a story…the story of us, mankind, and our temporary stay here on earth.

John O’Donohue spoke of ‘landscape’ often…defining and weaving its valued place in the tapestry of life under the domains of both the physical and spiritual “inner landscapes of beauty.” 

Don’t we, too often, take the familiar landscape of our daily lives for granted instead of seeing it for the important role it plays in our perception of life…as we are surrounded by it.

John O’Donohue, the gifted Irish poet and theologian, grew up in “The Burren” landscape of Ireland… often described as bleak, wild, raw and rocky…but not  to O’Donohue. (* or Anne Peterson 🙂

This limestone area of the world with wild rocky cliffs stirred his imagination as a child…for him it was “Where the Wild Things Are” and he was thrilled to be one of those happy wild things living there. He realized that who he was and who he became was due largely to this impressive landscape that cocooned his childhood, youth, and adulthood.

*(John O’Donohue’s response to the question of the role of landscape in our lives.)

“I think it makes a huge difference, when you wake in the morning and come out of your house, whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you, but in a totally different form, and if you go towards it with an open heart and a real, watchful reverence, then you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you.”

We talk a lot on this blog about taking time to pause or stop or simply look around us as we go through the day. There is a parallel life going on in plain sight…that we (hurriedly) never give thought to…as we rush from one item on our “to do” list to the next. We, humans, think we are not only first on the food chain but also first in every other area of life because of out ability to think, reason, remember, create and every other intellectual gift bestowed upon us.

It never crosses our mind that nature, as part of landscape, has endured a lot longer than any of us…without any help from us…until late in the story…and that “help” has proven detrimental from the time we entered it.

O’Donohue also talks about the inner spiritual landscape within us…our soul. He loves Pascal’s quote that advises:

One should always keep something beautiful on his mind.”

What sage advice….if we are having a really tough day…isn’t it wonderful that we have the capability to take ourselves to a place that can heal and restore our soul in life…a place we perhaps visited once before and felt at home in. We all have special places we can go to in times of trouble…a little chapel in the woods, an old fishing hole…it doesn’t have to be elaborate…just soothing.

It we can’t whisk away in a physical moment’s notice…we can pull the image from our sacred memory box and replay all the five senses surrounding our time at this favorite place we visited. What a gift God gave us.

So until tomorrow…Changing our perception of the landscape we live in as something viable and breathing…changes the way we look at our world and especially our personal lives. The Celtics believed landscape wasn’t just matter but it was actually alive.

O’Donohue says that the great gift received from letting landscape take us into a reverie of stillness, solitude, and silence…is that this type of experience can result in finding a place where one can “truly receive time.” 

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


Overall things went well at the Wound Center this past Friday…Lyn, one of the many terrific nurses there, really did some housekeeping (cleaning) on my poor foot/lower leg that haven’t seen the light of day except for a few minutes every Friday while a procedure is under way…(it has been covered up with the “boot” since the middle of October)…it is pathetically white, and shriveled with lots of dry skin…she washed and soothed the poor area before getting down to help put the different netting on to hopefully and prayerfully bring closure to this on-going saga…the “Story of the Deep Wound That Went Astray and Won’t Go Away.”

*I stayed over at John and Mandy’s Friday night…we had tentatively planned an outing to surprise the children Saturday…but woke up Saturday morning to rain and unsettled weather conditions so we scratched that idea…the girls did do a little is what we do best but mainly we just had fun being together.

*Now that John works his business out of his home…Tigger loves to sit on his lap and sleep while he works. Except… when the children are at home…then Tigger moves to the sofa. It’s a hard life.

Busted! Mom and Dad kissing…Jake is quite a kisser himself but still he waves a warning finger at them for good measure.  🙂

My place of beauty is inside my happy room and outside in my yard and garden. The landscape is definitely alive as the flowers talk to me each time I go visit….”Little Big Red’s” first bloom had popped open when I returned from Mt. Pleasant along with the bottle glass azalea bush on the front side of the yard.

*** And speaking of finding BEAUTY…Come one, come all to an art exhibit featuring two of our favorite artists…Anne Peterson and Helen K. Beachum! Treat yourself to a “landscape of talent and inner beauty!!!”






About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to Finding Our Own Place of Beauty

  1. bcparkison says:

    Outside is a very good reason to live in the wilds of our beautiful world. Farm living without the problems of farm living. Of course I really do miss the ‘problems’ of the farm.
    Yea for Little Big Red.
    ps. There is a new geranium card over at my new Etsy store.This is something I am giving a try.Pray for success.


  2. Becky Dingle says:

    You have it and more…..can hardly wait to have a peek!


  3. Becky,
    What a lovely post on the importance of place or landscape. For me, it is the first view of a new landscape that sends my heart hankering for more. The trees, ocean, sky, and mountains just reaffirm that I am just glad to be alive. It is what I remember in my travels, and when I look at the pictures, I remember that feeling of awe that envelops my soul. Great post. A reminder to stop and look and reflect.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Even if we only travel a little…the diversity of landscape within a small distance is mind-boggling much less among countries and continents. God offers us such a smorgasburg of beauty ….He had set the stage of landscape long before we appeared to enjoy it. He didn’t leave out a single detail.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn Gamache says:

    Dear Becky…a new week unfolds and a new blog from you! Thanks for the reminder about history and the need to emphasize the four different elements, ending with stories. How I love stories…love to hear stories and love to tell stories! When I share some of my life story with others I usually make sure they understand that this is not just my story but “His story” of how God, my Father, has been at work in my life for many years. Not an original thought, but I like it!
    Lovingly, Lynn


    • Becky Dingle says:

      So true….we are all “co-authoring” our own stories…with a whole different perspective from our co-author, God. It makes life more interesting.


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