Since educators everywhere and on all levels are now using heightened technology to create virtual classrooms, YouthCUE is offering the following online course as well.
ENHANCED LANDSCAPES 101
Lesson 1 – Spotting the Beauty and Celebrating It
Having been sequestered in my home for the past couple of weeks (as we all have been) and not completely certain what the local restrictions are for getting out of the house, I sometimes combine trips like going to the grocery store with pulling into a favorite restaurant to pick up lunch or dinner.
It has become my new practice … three times now in about ten days … to go through my favorite barbecue place’s drive-through and then take my meal to a particular nearby space which is simple but naturally gorgeous. On bright, sunshiny days – which is when I’ve always gone – it is especially beautiful at this spot.
The location is Tom C. Clark High School, one of a few dozen 6A high schools in San Antonio. SAT, population 2.3 million, is currently the second fastest-growing city in the US (second only to Phoenix), and this large high school campus sits just off the biggest growth plate in the sprawling suburbs. I’ve driven by Clark HS dozens of times, but I had not noticed until recently that there is a grand and lovely greenspace between the street and the school’s humungous student parking lot. A veritable park, it is probably seven or eight acres of pure beauty.
Since the parking lot is sitting totally empty these days, I figured this would be a great place to enjoy a solitary meal. So I found a shade tree in the middle of the naturally elevated parking lot, stopped, opened all the windows and moonroof, and had an in-vehicle picnic. The rolling terrain before me was a reminder that this campus sits right on the edge of the glorious Texas Hill Country.
As I enjoyed a quiet meal with the gentle spring breeze gently tossing my ever-thinning hair, I looked to those gorgeous oak trees and the green meadow underneath them and wondered, “I wonder when the last time a harried student or overworked parent noticed one or all of those trees or this large, rolling greenspace. And I wonder if anyone has given thanks for the person or persons who had the foresight to keep that part of the campus pristine, maintaining that unofficial park as is, not allowing it to be raped by excessive development, dozing, steel and concrete? And, of course, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times all of us regularly pass right over the glory of God to meet our next deadline or to not be late for class.
This is a strange, strange time … eating meals in a vacated school parking lot for the joy of it … and actually looking forward to doing it again! It certainly was not something on my bucket list, but golly, I’m glad I had the experience. And I hope to go back over and over again, even after COVID-19 has run its course.
It matters not where we experience the presence of God. When we get there and discover God has already arrived and is waiting for us, it’s a discovery and blessing beyond description … to stop, look, listen, be still, know, and be grateful.
When we all get back together again and things in this world return to some form of a new normal, I hope I can do a better job of leading my students (and myself) to spot God’s beauty ever surrounding us.
Does it take an epidemic to teach us such things? That I do not know, but I certainly want to be more aware from this point on.
- Since the onset of COVID-19, what new beauties have you discovered that have heretofore gone undetected by you and/or your family or community?
- Describe one of your first recognitions of beauty as a young child.
- Is there a song you learned to sing as a child that still influences or enhances your worldview today?