Next week is the one-year anniversary of Glimsen. That means I’ve written roughly 100 blog posts related to some type of beauty. I’m marking that milestone in a few different ways, including sending out a reader survey (more on that next week), looking back at where we’ve come from and, I’m pretty sure, having a piece of chocolate cake.
It had been a very hard few years. Low back issues and a tailbone injury led to chronic back pain that changed the way I lived my life on a daily basis. When you’re in pain, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. So in learning to live with it, the dailiness of my life revolved mainly around two things: taking care of my pain and my family.
During that time, I forgot how important beauty is to me. I forgot that beauty has a way of pulling you out of your circumstances, broadening your perspective, and opening your eyes to the world around you.
Beauty is its own reward, but it’s so much more than that. Have you ever asked yourself where beauty comes from? If one looks at the world from a naturalistic point of view, beauty doesn't fit. In a survival of the fittest worldview, beauty isn't necessary to survive. So why does it exist?
Beauty is a gift. (And, I would argue, is necessary for soul survival.) Beauty, especially in nature, points beyond itself to its maker. It points to God. Without God, there would be no beauty.
In the midst of that difficult time in my life, I had forgotten that in the past God has used beauty in my life—beauty that he created—to reach out to me, comfort me, and remind me of his presence.
I needed reminding.
Several years before, our friends, Joan and Roger Arndt, bought a historic property, renovated it, and opened a bed & breakfast. We had seen pictures of the place, read Joan’s book about the renovation process, and told ourselves that some day we would go for a visit.
So, one day, when my pain had become more manageable, we realized that our opportunities for family vacations with our high schooler were numbered, and we asked ourselves, why not now?
We made our plans, set the date, and months later, found ourselves at Le Vigne, Joan and Roger’s beautiful home in Umbria, Italy.
A historic property from the 1300s that was once a convent, Le Vigne needed major attention when Joan and Roger bought it. They lovingly and painstakingly restored the house and grounds into something that far surpassed our expectations: a large villa with guest house, amazing views, an olive grove with 1000 trees, flowers, flowering trees, fruit trees, a pool, tennis court, bocci court, two hammocks, acres of grass, brick pavers, a stone wall with witty details (see below!), and more. It was stunning, wherever I looked.
We stayed at Le Vigne for a week, using it as our home base to do day-trips to Florence, Cortona, and nearby villages. As much as I loved visiting those sites and exploring the countryside, my favorite part involved simply being right there at Le Vigne with our friends. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty I saw.
Spending time at Le Vigne, surrounded by beauty, revived and refreshed me. It rekindled my love for beauty.
Over the next year, I felt a stirring, a restlessness in my writing career that coincided with my daughter learning to drive and freeing up some of my time. I talked to Mart about this restlessness and what it might mean.
“I want to do something new,” I told him. “I think something to do with beauty.”
I wanted to share beauty with others. So, in July 2016, Glimsen was officially launched.
Now, I want to share with you some of the beauty at Le Vigne that inspired me to start this blog. The quality of the photos isn’t as good as I’d like, because my camera was very old—an iPhone 3 or 4—but I hope you’ll enjoy them anyway. I hope, too, that, as with everything I post on Glimsen, you will be inspired to look for the beauty around you.