I was out for a walk this morning, trying to get my “steps in” when this is what I saw. I have probably passed it multiple times before but either the sun on the outside or the light on the inside prepared me to notice the purple flowers with different eyes.
I think they are called Russian Sage. I took out my phone and began the almost instantaneous decision of how I should compose the scene. How liberating not to have to worry how many pictures are left on the roll, not to have to crank that lever and hear the film advance.
Did I want to look at them or through them? When I look at them I think of what they are and who they are. I ask their name, their species, what they need to be and become. An internet search says they are native to Central Asia and have relatives in the mint family. They like full sun and well drained soil but struggle where it is hot and humid. Plants like people have their own sense of space and place. Plants like people thrive best where they are meant to be and not necessarily where I want them.
But I digress. I would rather look through them than at them. It’s not the sage I am looking at. It is the way they play with the water and the sky. It is the spaces between the long thin lilac branches. It is the places where no-thingness can live, where I find God and where God finds room to breathe. Yes, God breathes or God is breath. Yes, God needs space or God is space. One of the names for God in Hebrew is HaMakom – the Place, like in the emptiness between the stalks where you can see the long view. I like describing what I mean by the word God as my “long view”.
It helps me find my self. It helps me find my still small place in the universe. It reminds me I am not at the center. It inspires me to strive to gaze back, peer forward, and discover that this is where I am meant to be. This is where God finds me and this is where I find God, centering myself as one small piece of a connected landscape. It’s a little bit of Buber and I-Thou. It’s a little bit of Heschel and Radical Awe. It’s a little bit of me and how I strive to find the sacred within and in between the places, people, plants and things that make up this world we all share.
Disclaimer or Fine Print: This is often easier to do with plants than with people. (Just saying…)