As I walk around Concordia's campus these days, the beauty that once was is quickly disappearing. The fountain is destroyed, trees are torn down, sidewalks are ripped up, and building material is in heaps. Our little urban oasis is quickly being left behind.
But as I walked around the new campus the other evening, I began to understand a different type of beauty - a sense that the beauty of nature and natural foliage is VERY different from the beauty of the city and what I often call "the symphony of concrete." Natural beauty - that which occurs through trees, rocks, skies and sounds of nature - produces a calming effect, very different from urban beauty. To be able to look out and see trees...to walk out among the sounds of birds...to wander through vines and flowers...to sit and listen to quietness - all of this produces a different type of response as one visually takes all of that in.
So what might this have to do with education - and how can Concordia leverage this in its mission of developing Christian leaders? Let's start a list:
1. Natural beauty allows one to relax and breathe a little easier, which allows the brain to more fully capture and remember what has been learned.
2. Natural beauty often brings one more fully in touch with God, allowing people to sense God's presence in a more distinct way.
3. When one engages with natural beauty on a regular basis, they might be more inclined to engage with stewarding the environment, making them more apt to become "green" Christian leaders.
4. The beauty of nature often inspires one's artistic manner, allowing the right side of the brain to more fully engage and enhance learning.
5. Engaging with natural beauty can lead one to explore the writings and thoughts of such thinkers as Thoreau and Emerson, bringing students in touch with philosophy and great writers.
What an opportunity to USE this new space Concordia has been given. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I have to believe that no matter what one thinks about the new campus, it is - and always will be - a bastion of BEAUTY. If you have more items to add to the list above, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.