June 1, 2010

Image as Insight: Reading Nature

This week, Baya Clare, CSJ invites us to contemplate what we might see in the natural world around us.

"I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple
in a field and don't notice it."
─ Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Maybe it was the snowless March, followed by a really wet April, followed by our rather hot May, but whatever the reason, it's a great year for flowers here in Minnesota. As I was thinking about images to post for Image as Insight, I remembered how delighted I was last summer to watch some particular blossoms unfold out by our garage.* What I want you to notice is how these little beauties develop.

See how tightly packed this is? No sign of petals yet, although you can see that the green structure supporting them from underneath is already there, holding everything all together.

In this one, you begin to see the petals. They're the little rolled-up yellow things like scrolls. I probably walked by this bud 20 times before I caught on to that fact. They must have been all squashed down underneath, but once the bud began to open up, there they were, all in a circle.

Now you can see the whole progression. See how new petals keep pushing up and unfurling, yellow on one side and purple on the other? Just like unrolling scroll after scroll after scroll.

And what words of God do you read as they are unrolled?

"'And what is this? I asked the earth, and it answered me, 'I am not He' and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, 'We are not Thy God, seek above us.' I asked the moving air; and the whole air with his inhabitants answered, 'Anaximenes was deceived, I am not God.' I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, 'Nor (say they) are we the God whom thou seekest.' And I replied unto all the things which encompass the door of my flesh: 'Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He; tell me something of Him.' And they cried out with a loud voice, 'He made us.' My questioning them, was my thoughts on them: and their form of beauty gave the answer."
─St. Augustine, The Confessions

*I confess, I don't know the names of flowers, so I can't say what these are. Assistance in this regard is greatly appreciated!


claire said...

Thank you, Baya. I will spend more time looking at the flowers in the garden :-)

Raima said...

Beautiful...like a mandala unfolding.

BTW, I think those might be zinnias, although I can't be sure.