On Beholding

On Beholding
Morning has broken on Goose Creek

It’s a lovely word: beholding.

It expresses seeing beyond the mere perception of light and color, comprehending the deeper realities of the thing seen. It obliges the beholder to a deeper level of discernment than the casual onlooker.

It is a central theme to what I am attempting to say now in what might someday be my third book. The notion of beholding just cropped up above the horizon of awareness again this morning, reading a piece that resonates with my own hopes to behold the ecology of Goose Creek and tell that story to others.

The “reflection for Earth Day” is authored by Andrew Zolli, and I only hope that I can capture in my personal accounts of life in this Blue Ridge valley some of the poignant beholding that has led this author to be able to express the practical poetry of beholding so well:

The world is being built. It is growing. It is on fire. It is collapsing. It is in bloom. It is in decay.

And it is all these things at once.

Sitting with the grand simultaneity of it all, with the direct perception of boundless, kaleidoscopic global change, one begins to feel something new: the possibility of a planetary sense.

And here is the crux of the matter: Earth observation, if entered into deeply, can be not only a psychological experience, but a spiritual one, too.

This requires not just looking, but beholding – to sit in deep and focused awareness, in full presence, without judgment.

About

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

2 Comments on “On Beholding

  1. An angel once said “Behold…….!”
    Maybe angels are always saying that –
    maybe that is all they ever say!

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