The holiday season is upon us once again! Boats and caravans are being brought out of hibernation, brochures are being scoured, flights are getting booked (with optimism) and the great get-away is awaited with eagerness and anticipation.
After such an incredible run of sunny days I’m surprised that any of us wants to go away on holiday, because here, on our doorstep, we live surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. OK, in the dark, dreich days of endless winter it may be harder to appreciate, but in the warm, reflective and brilliant sunshine there’s nowhere that beats Scotland for beauty.
When my daughter Catherine was young I tried very hard to instil in her the art of noticing the surrounding beauty. I didn’t want her to take it for granted. After a brief spell in Glasgow with all its traffic, noise and pollution, Inverclyde became her home with its spectacular views of the Arrochar Alps, the three Clyde sea lochs and the dramatic tail of the bank, where the Clyde turns the corner at Gourock and flows into the Irish sea. She grew very easily to appreciate it.
At the same time I also tried very hard to instil in her a desire to look for and recognise a deeper beauty – the beauty found within the people she met and also the beauty deep within herself. It was a skill that wasn’t quite so easy for her to acquire initially – or very fashionable (it’s so much more acceptable to judge and criticise)! But I was determined she would grow to believe in the core goodness in everyone made in the image and likeness of God and to see that it’s only erroneous life choices and mistakes that cover up any innate beauty.
It’s a great paradox in life that a person’s inner beauty grows as they recognised it in others. This beauty has nothing to do with worldly know-how, money or status. It is free, available to everyone irrespective of age, and God’s gift to us all. We could travel all over the world, see the sights, take the photographs, spend a fortune and yet find the greatest beauty within our neighbour next door, our colleague at work, our friend at home. All we have to do is to look – and to see – God’s goodness and beauty all around us in creation and in the people we meet.