The constant speed and pressure of life today can rob many of us of quiet, quality time to stop and meditate upon the beauty and wonder of our God’s creation. However, when we do indulge in this priceless pleasure, we can bring our minds back to seeing the bigger picture of life and the purpose of it all. Sister Knechtl has for many years lived in isolation in Innsbruck, a town in the beautiful Austrian Alps. She shares with us a few thoughts engendered whilst beholding the beautiful panorama before her.

It is the last day of October, with all the surrounding world bathed in the warm, golden glow of autumn; that soft diffused light which gives no indication of the winter to come. I sit on a mountainside high above Innsbruck, quite alone, and moved to my innermost being, as I am so often, by the indescribable beauty of all that lies before me.

The mountains stretch in an unending panorama as far as the eye can see, their summits just capped with snow. The air is still, absolute peace reigns, and a gloriously warm sun, even at the end of October, shines benignly on the world. Such a day, and such a vista, is surely a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.

The trees stand sentinel against a cloudless sky of deep tropical blue, all clad in their wonderful autumn dress—golds, browns and rusts all mingling with the eternal greens of the pines.

Far below me the river winds its way along the Inn Valley like a silver ribbon sheathed in mist. The impact of such a scene on the senses is almost a physical pain.

And yet, we have to acknowledge that in this sad world in which we live we are battered with evil news every time we pick up a newspaper or listen to TV or radio; ever-recurring events of cruelty, greed and man’s inhumanity to fellow-man. And unless we bury our heads in the sand, there is no avoidance of these things—nor would we wish to remain in ignorance of events happening in the days just prior to Christ’s return to earth to establish peace and justice, and to destroy the destroyers.

Our Need to Appreciate God’s Goodness

Just because we are battered with evil news on every hand, it seems to me that we should make a conscious effort to realise and to see with our inner eye all the glorious things with which we are surrounded. In spite of violence, drugs and brutality, there is so much beauty in the world if we only look at it with conscious eyes.

Science tells us that we are what we eat: if our bodily state depends upon that with which it is fed, how much more does our spiritual state? We are told that we should think on whatsoever things are pure and lovely and of good report, and it is more than ever imperative, in these days of haste, that we find time to ‘stand and stare’, to ponder in stillness on the glories with which God’s hand has surrounded us. Everything that we survey in nature is perfection, whether it be the countless flowers, each wonderful beyond our imagination and certainly beyond our power to re-produce, the majestic trees, the incomparable animal world or the winging of birds. All nature is a paeon of praise to Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth. How can we look at the stars at night and not be moved to awe and reverence?

If we have the desire, we can find beauty in every sphere of our lives—yes, even if we live in the slums! If we look with our inner, our spiritual eyes, we find beauty in all things that are part of our life—in the dawn chorus which greets us each day, in dew on a spider’s web, the markings on a butterfly’s wings, the cadence of a Mozart piano concerto (indeed, to me music is the very pinnacle of beauty). And perhaps if we try consciously to be aware, our minds can be ever more filled with everything that is pure and lovely, and our hearts filled with praise and thanks to the Almighty Creator of all things, in whom lies all our Hope.