Sociohorticulture and Beauty

During my senior year of college, I took a Sociohorticulture class. Sociohorticulture examines how horticultural practices and plants can be beneficial for the human experience because of the relationship between the two. Really fascinating, and it’s surprising how impactful plants can be. Yes, yes, I have college credit for such a class. Plants don’t fly, but aerospace engineering majors need their elective credits.

When I initially drafted this blog post, I was on a snowboarding trip with some friends. This trip was part of the reason why I went on an unannounced blog break. I thoroughly enjoyed myself since I’ve never been snowboarding before (or snow sports in general), and it was definitely an adventure!

But, even as I had fun on the trip, I had a ton of things that I’m thinking about. I mean, beyond this trip I was preparing for a multitude of important obligations, and life in general has been particularly stressful.

And so, as we traversed from our lodging to the ski resort and vice versa, it gave me some time to look out the window and reflect on all the things occupying my mind, whether for worse or better.

Praise God that the views right outisde of the car window were that of the wilds and lightly settled areas of southern Colorado! Forests, mountains, blue skies, oh my! And even alpacas?! Cool.

It made me think back to my Sociohorticulture class. There I learned that seeing scenes of nature can provide a calming effect to help with stress as well as helping with focus. Seeing the mountains of majesty covered in forests against a backdrop of blue, clear skies definitely helped me be less stressed about all the things. It was quite nice. I sort of yearned to view such views because it helped put my mind at ease or at least distracted me from focusing on negatives.

But wait. There’s more.

I’m Catholic.

Digging deeper into my faith has helped me appreciate encountering beauty, especially such beautiful scenes here in Colorado.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches me in paragraph 2500 that

“Truth is beautiful in itself…but truth can also find other complementary forms of human expression, above all when it is a matter of evoking what is beyond words: the depths of the human heart, the exaltations of the soul, the mystery of God. Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos-which both the child and scientist discover-“from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator,” “for the author of beauty created them.”

In addition to the sociohorticulture benefits, seeing the beauty of Colorado definitely had its taste of the divine because it is His creation.

Why is that helpful for me? Because a majority of my interior struggles (which I won’t divulge here at this time) deal with a self-centered attitude. Marvelling at Colorado’s beauty reminds me that such a thing is only possible because of God, who is the author of beauty. Acknowledging the source of beauty I encountered really reminded me to put things in perspective that God is greater than me. Even if all the things I’m worried and concerned about seems to not be working in the way I want, just to have these opportunities of encountering beauty in nature to acknowledge divine perspective is calming despite all the stress I’m dealing with.  It takes a certain trust of God’s love, mercy, and will to be okay in these beautiful encounters pointing towards the divine.

Total trust in God? Something I still struggle with.
– JD