We often forget that we live in a world of endless beauty because we are blinded by the negativity in our lives. We forget that this negativity can be beautiful in its own right. By recognizing this beauty, we open ourselves to a new way of viewing the world around us. This view can transform our grief to gladness and our worries to wonder. It is a view that has even personally helped me through some of my hardest difficulties and brought me closer to God on the other side.
This view comes from the 19th-century movement called Romanticism. Romanticists believed in spending time appreciating nature and leaning on one’s emotions rather than reasoning in order to have our hearts soar from the realization that life is good and nature is sublime.
By adopting this mentality, we can find resilience through the toughest hardships. However, taking on an entirely new perspective to life is a lot easier than it sounds. To help you become a 21st-century Romanticist as well, I will share with you a little of what has helped me in my own struggles.
Seven years ago, I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. Staring at the towering spires of rock and snow filled me with a sense of sublime wonder and joy that I later learned were the same feelings that started the Romanticism movement. Ever since that day, I have found solace in the mountains. However, my true adoption of Romanticism ideals didn’t come until my grandfather passed away.
My grandfather helped me find a new love for God through our talks as I worked for him one summer on his farm. Seeing him slowly forgot who my brother and I were, and not being able to see him at all during his final months, filled me with a sadness so deep that I could never properly express it to those around me.
I wished for nothing more than to see the mountains. The snow-capped peaks brought me a joy that I wished for more than anything during that time. But I was in school and couldn’t afford to drive to Colorado for the weekend, so I had to settle for the nature that was around me. I stared at the slowly swaying grass of the fields. I watched the colors of the sunset over a nearby lake day after day. The rising moon became a beacon of joy for me on sleepless nights. My favorite were the cumulonimbus clouds that shot into the sky like immense towers. I think it’s because they reminded me of the mountains.
It was these little things that brought me comfort.
These tiny glimpses of our Creator’s divine creativity are what got me through that pain that I couldn’t express. Unfortunately, this period of relief didn’t last very long before I lost someone else close to me.
The death of my godfather, Michael Jaquez, brought me back to the same place I had fallen before. A sadness buried so deep within me that I couldn’t let it out. At least, not all at once. Instead I did what I had done before—I looked for comfort. This time, however, I couldn’t turn to the nature that had helped me before because it was winter. So instead, I looked to the little things. The creaks and crunches of ice in the branches of a frozen tree. Light glinting off the snow in the evening. Cold air biting my face as I hiked outside. Through these little things I saw in nature, I was able to release my sadness and build up a resilience to hardships.
Life is full of sadness and events that we wish had not happened, but it is also full of endless beauty. Just as David says in Psalm 50:2, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.” We do not need a grandiose moment to have God reveal Himself to us. We merely need to exist in the now. Trust our emotions. Find God in nature. Love the little things.
Caleb Schaber is a sophomore communication major from Lincoln, Nebraska. He enjoys writing short stories, scripts, and plays, and is currently working on his first novel. Being an environmentalist at heart, he loves nature and wants everyone around him to share the same appreciation for it.