There is a huge pond, right next door to my house. In the photograph above you can see me pointing to where it is from the front porch of my home. Where my finger is, is exactly where the water is. A pond is my next door neighbor.
I never go there. Well, almost never. I go there when my body aches to move and I need to walk somewhere, anywhere, and next door is the easiest place. Or I go there when my soul aches for something beautiful, and then comes that whisper (which is probably the whisper of God’s voice in my life) that says: “you could, at the very least, go to the pond.”
And I walk next door.
And in the Winter there is snow and ice on the pond, and it is quiet and still. And in Springtime the leaves are bright green and new, and there are chipmunks and rabbits and squirrels busting out of the undergrowth. And in Summer there are kids fishing, and the water sparkles like a mirror. And in Fall every color you could imagine surrounds the water, even colors I didn’t know God had created. And every time I walk there I think: “Alison, can you believe all this beauty lives right next door to you?”
But don’t worry, this isn’t a blog post to boast about the house where I live. This is a blog post about this truth: beauty lives next door to you, too.
Beauty lives next door to you in the books and art and music that is around you and available to you: when was the last time you sat down with a good read, or took a weekend stroll in an art gallery in town?
Beauty lives next door to you in your partner: when was the last time you went out for dinner and sat across the table from them and let yourself see and fall in love them all over again?
Beauty lives next door to you in your children: when was the last time you sat down on the floor and played with them and listened to them laugh?
Beauty lives next door to you in that friend you who inspires you that you never seem to have enough time for: when was the last time you picked up the phone to call them and just talked for an hour, or even hours?
Beauty lives next door to you in God, in Jesus, whose other name was “Emmanuel” which means “God with us”: when was the last time you laid on the bed and poured out your heart, speaking a prayer? When was the last time you laid there, breathing in, asking “speak to me God” and just waited for God to speak?
I don’t want to write these things to make you feel guilty for neglecting to do them. Actually, I’m writing these things for me. Sometimes I think I have to go so far to find beauty. That to find beauty in a place I have to fly to the other side of the world. To find beauty in a person I have to make a new friend. To find beauty in my spouse I have to go through hours of counseling and “work.” To find beauty in God I have to climb a spiritual mountain. But the truth is, all that beauty is right there next door to me. Not far away at all.
And I write these things that I might remember. And perhaps you need the reminder too. Not to wait until your body aches for a walk, or your heart aches for something new. Go put on your walking shoes and spend some time with something beautiful, right now, today. It is right there, waiting for you. Because beauty, incredible breathtaking beauty, lives next door to you.