When the pandemic hit in 2020, our fast-paced lives came to a screeching halt. We were at a loss trying to find ways to fill our newly found free time. However, this was when I rediscovered treasures I had taken for granted as I went about speeding through life. Amid the quietness of the pandemic, I developed a deeper appreciation for the birds chirping as I listened to them in my backyard. I hardly spend time in my backyard, but the lockdown gave me so much free time that I was able to catch up with nature and the birds in my backyard. I was able to listen to their chirps this time with intentionality. Sometimes, I would do so contemplatively with my eyes closed to absorb the harmony and the melody in their songs fully. Inspired by the story of Saint Francis of Assisi blessing the birds, I began to thank God for the birds sincerely. Before the pandemic, my days were full of activities, and I had very little bandwidth to sit and observe my surroundings. The same songs the birds sing just seemed like background noise or a nuisance. Somehow, the pandemic changed the way I listened. The emptiness of the pandemic lockdowns reminded me to give myself permission to slow down, look around, and listen. As the sediments settled in what used to be the raging river of my life, I started to see the light from above, trying to penetrate the depth of my heart. The slower tempo made me recognize that time is not the enemy working against me but a healer tending to my woundedness.
Indeed, time heals. Every tick of the clock allows the mystery of grace to unfold if we just let it. In that empty space of time, my senses were pulled away from the world’s busyness and the busy glow of my digital devices. I was brought to a place of nothingness where rediscovery and reawakening are possible. The birds chirping, the wind whistling, and the wings of the butterflies flapping reminded me of the simple but beautiful music found in nature. Indeed, blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). Moments of emptiness can lead us to fill our cups with the goodness already around us. It is a blessing to behold the beauty and goodness in this space, just there awaiting our attention. Amid today’s chaos and uncertainties, beauty, goodness, and harmony are ready to transport us to a place of serenity and order, reminding us of our presence and place in nature.
Humanity is truly gifted not only to be surrounded by nature but also to have the faculties to perceive and contemplate the beauty and goodness in it. God speaks to us through beauty and goodness. We can look upon creation and declare with the One who created it all, “It is good.” God’s calling card is imprinted in its goodness through beauty.
The origin of the words beauty and good is kalos in ancient Greek. It is very similar to the word origin for calling. Indeed, the One who created what is beautiful and good eternally draws us in, calling us to Beauty and the Good.
BJ Gonzalvo, Ph.D., is a psychologist and a veteran born and raised in the Philippines (now residing in Washington). His writing, where he often integrates culture, psychology, and spirituality, has appeared in Northwest Catholic, Busted Halo, FilCatholic, and Mind & Spirit. He is the author of Lead Like the Saints (Paulines, 2019) and Gift of Kapwa (2022).