I love rainy Sundays. The falling rain curtains the house, shutting away the world and encouraging me to stay indoors and rest or participate in light, enjoyable activities. Several times today, the words of Simone Weil came to me.
“There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”
I understand those words. My heart has been run clean through by both in my lifetime. I much prefer being undone by beauty. For today’s Sunday Short, I chose to share some of the beautiful arrows that have pierced my heart, by way of photos.
My heart is pierced by the beauty of …
My Beloved Scotland
Beauty Surrounds Me
The photos above are just a sampling of the beauty that moves me to my core. In truth, if I am open and aware, with eyes to see, I can be pierced daily by the beauty found in a sunrise, a stranger’s smile, a gorgeous fox running through a field, piles of fresh fruit, autumn leaves quivering on a tree, or a silver moon high in the night sky.
I am grateful for beauty’s ability to find the heart no matter how protected it may be. Even the most barricaded heart cannot withstand the sharp, sweet agony of great beauty. Nature, art, humanity, animals, architecture, candlelight all soften us and expand us so that we may then receive, and give, joy, hope, compassion and love.
Taking in beauty allows me to know I am enough. I’ve done enough. I can breathe it in and sit quietly with it, in deep appreciation. Beauty nurtures me and sustains me and leads me onward.
Sometimes inspiration taps me on the shoulder or whispers in my ear. I get a creative idea or a very detailed download and off I go, to manifest that idea. And sometimes inspiration takes me by the hand and leads me on an adventure.
Today, it was more of a field trip for us. Inspiration led me to Sandstone Gardens, just west of Joplin.
It was Greg who mentioned this beautiful place. We needed to get out of the house for a while. The City was installing new water lines in the neighborhood and shut off the water on my street. We took in an early movie. And then decided to visit this grand home and garden retail store.
Sandstone Gardens began in 1986 as a side business in the garage of newlyweds, Max & Vicki Carr. The couple made molds and cast small traditional concrete yard ornaments. After a succesful first year in business, they both quit their jobs and have devoted themselves to growing and developing Sandstone Gardens.
That’s the biz story. It doesn’t adequately convey the beauty of this enchanting place. When the company was located in Joplin, on S Rangeline, I visited Sandstone Gardens frequently. They had a showroom full of unique items. However, it was the outdoor gardens with their winding paths and attractive concrete statuary that drew me there.
When the company outgrew their location, they purchased 68 acres west of Joplin, near the Oklahoma state line, and built a 50,000 square foot building that looks like a country estate. This building is amazing, filled with a vast collection of housewares, home decor items and garden accents, all for sale. Sandstone Gardens reopened in its new location in 2004.
But on my first visit there, I was disappointed. Although the huge store was incredible, gone were the gardens with the winding paths, nooks and crannies, benches and statues and gazebos. There were a couple of “garden” rooms full of plants and fountains and statues, however they were enclosed. It wasn’t the same. I never went back. Until today.
Sandstone Gardens hasn’t changed its layout. They have added a Bistro. And of course, the product has changed since my last visit years ago. The interior of the store is just as amazing with its gorgeous displays. The garden rooms are still there, and there is a small outdoor area to wander through.
What has changed, is me. I have grown. I no longer place expectations on people or events or even stores. I could walk into Sandstone Gardens today with an openness that I didn’t have before, and simply let the experience unfold.
And I was delighted with what I saw. I was drawn from room to room, exclaiming over this or commenting on that, and Inspiration walked alongside, tapping my shoulder, or planting ideas into my creative mind and soul.
I loved a display of Alice in Wonderland inspired garden accents. And I found a door in a garden room, which reminded me of my symbol from two years ago, signifying new opportunities and adventure. Everywhere I looked, I appreciated the grace and beauty of this place. I felt my creativity expand.
I even found a statue that looks suspiciously like Gandalf the Grey, the wizard from Middle Earth. I believe he will find his way into my garden this summer!
Walking outside, I realized that the old Sandstone Gardens in town had been my inspiration for creating my own backyard paradise. I suddenly knew what had happened. When the new store opened, without the accompanying gardens and paths, I lost that place of inspiration and also the hope I felt that I could someday create something similar.
The dream I had didn’t die though. I was just forced to look for inspiration elsewhere, like within myself. Other opportunities came and other doors opened, and as I shifted and grew, I took responsibility for creating my own place of peace and beauty. And I did it. I made my dream a reality.
My backyard paradise…a beautiful work in progress.
My garden is a continuing work. Like me it shifts and grows every year. I love it. And I love Sandstone Gardens. I am open to the beauty it offers. I can visit that magnificent place and receive inspiration and purchase items to take home.
Next week, when I am not juicing, I will return to try a vegetarian lunch at the bistro and let inspiration lead me again through the rooms. I am looking forward to another visit to Sandstone Gardens.