I went running the other day and watched the sun set from a secluded hill in the mountains that overlooked the ocean. The pinks, oranges and purples bounced down from the sky and reflected in the still water. Birds sang overhead while the trees danced in unison.
Now I'm back home for the summer, in my native Utah. On a bikeride today I passed a bunny rabbit, sharing a green pasture with a small herd of cows and some sand cranes. All stood lazily in the sun, nibbling on grass and dandelions as the majestic snow-capped mountains towered above us all.
Nature is a wonder I can never wrap my head around. Everything works together to form something so complete -- from the tiniest bug to the tallest mountain -- that its majesty is impossible for any human language to do justice. I've seen some of the many wonders it has to offer. I hope to see many more. But one thing nature has taught me is this: I am only an insignificant speck.
I've learned that if I do nothing, the sun will still rise in the mornings and set in the evenings. The turtles, fish, whales and sharks will still form an entirely different, breathtaking world underwater. Lilacs and plumerias will still smell sweeter than anything else I know. Snow-capped mountains will stand their ground and giant trees will continue to sprout from seeds the size of a grain of sand. And I, the speck, can choose to sit it out in waves of self-pity or choose to be a part of it -- a contributor to the beauty that is everywhere. Because the other thing I've learned is that the most beautiful of nature's gifts are not found in the heart of a distant jungle. They are all around us. They are in a baby's innocent eyes; in a giant hug or shoulder to cry on, in a child's laugh, in a moment of inspiration, in a beautiful song or story. The beauty is in knowing that maybe you helped someone the way God would have. It's in improving a life, even if for a moment in the smallest way. It's in expressing gratitude when it's deserved, and in giving love even when it's not. It's in doing the things we do best in a way that will benefit another. It's in sharing a smile with someone even when we don't feel like it, because maybe that someone needed it more.
Being a part of the beauty isn't always easy. Sometimes in giving of ourselves we get disappointed, discouraged, disheartened. But stepping away from it and dwelling on pain and regret only makes a person more of an insignificant speck than he was before.
Nature is beckoning us to be part of its perfect flow and rhythm by giving of ourselves. Not doing so won't make the sunset less vivid, but making an effort could prove more beautiful than the most orange of evenings atop a tree-laden hill.