I hope that you are enjoying the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The athletes and their performances are so impressive—especially given the pressure of the competition. Even the games’ moments of “failure” inspire the viewer as the Olympians manifest such sound-mindedness, courage, and determination when they get back up and keep going after they make costly, sometimes ruinous mistakes. The athletes are beautiful—they reveal the splendor and majesty of our race in a particularly vivid manner.
In the gospel of Saint Luke, the Lord says, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Be mindful that Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, was surely a looker in addition to being healthy, wealthy, and wise. So, we have scriptural evidence that at least some other creatures surpass man in beauty—at least in a way. In Greek-speak, we might say that each kind of creature reflects a certain perfection of God that other species do not reflect. So, marvel as we might at the strength, speed, agility, intelligence, creativity, virtue, humor, and comeliness of our race, we do not exhaust the glories of the world. And we are perceptive enough to realize this truth. Hence, human beings—from Lascaux to today—have appreciated the form of the flora and fauna that surround us as worthy of our attention—perhaps even of our veneration.
As I am such a human being, I like to showcase the Nature Conservancy’s annual photography contest. It is worth your time to review the photographs, and you may see previous years’ images in “A Glimpse of Pan,” “Mundus Pulcher,” and “Glorious Handiwork.” For the current winners and notable mentions, visit “8th Annual Photo Contest Winners” on the Nature Conservancy’s site. The grand prize winner—a perfectly timed photograph of a heron and a red-winged blackbird in flight—is stunning, though I believe that I voted for the picture of Elk Lake in Adirondacks State Park by Gary Paige:
The vista makes my soul sing.