There’s a tree (I think an apple tree) next to an abandoned house near my office. I walk past it at least twice a day. Right now it has the loveliest pink and white blossoms I have ever seen.
Last Friday when I walked by I snapped off a piece of a branch with several blossoms, and set the branch on the dashboard of my car. As I drove home, I touched it, and the petals were so light that I could barely feel them. When I got home, I stuck it in some water, in a place where I could see it while sitting on the sofa. And for a while I just contemplated it.
I was filled with this overwhelming love for the world outside me, and amazement that something so mundane (how many billions of trees are there in the world?) could be made with such exquisite detail. The petals had the faintest pink tinge around the edges, with white centers. The leaves were a perfect yellowish green.
Faith in religion, in God, in a higher power – whatever you want to call the belief that some people have – has often been hard for me. But contemplating those blossoms, I felt reassured that there was some sort of power bigger than us humans.
Yes, I know there is a scientific reason for the blossoms (to attract bees, to continue pollination) and all the other features of the tree. But what sparked my faith was the very fact that I was capable of perceiving beauty – the fact that something called “beauty” exists, and that it can impact our souls. The fact that this world is so richly complicated reassures me.