Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
a place to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
~ John Muir (1838-1914), American naturalist
Oddly, the first thing I thought of when I read that quote was a country club I was in recently, lunching with a client who was a member. The club, I’m told, is considered one of the best in the nation, beginning with its fabulous golf course which hosts a PGA tournament every few years. Striking is the club’s manicured beauty, impeccable the attention to detail in every service. Yet, to me, the place offered no healing strength to body and soul. Energy doesn’t lie, my bride says. Here was an institution seemingly run by rules rather than principles: do this or that just so rather than love the person in front of you. It felt a bit like one of those elegant, brittle dowagers played to perfection by the wonderful actor, Maggie Smith––holding onto the past in terror of the future. But even Dame Maggie would have no say in this club. Its board of governors are all white men.
Beautifully enough, the vibe of the club isn’t at all the vibe of my client, a leader with an ever-expanding interior landscape of kindness and compassion. He’s an enjoyable reminder that the most important place to play in and pray in is our own heart.
Perhaps that’s why so many of us feel such a powerful connection with nature. We’re reminded that the awe of fathomless love we feel in connection with mother earth occurs only because it burns in us, as well.