It’s Still Pretty

By: Jenni Taylor

When I was 15, I went to an “extreme camping” camp for a few weeks. We took our bags and our mosquito nets all over Wisconsin and Michigan until we hit Lake Superior and just stopped. The other girls teased me, for saying “it’s so pretty!” at every turn. It’s hard not to when you are watching the northern lights above the trees or the sun set over the lake. It really truly was pretty.

It’s about 9 years later, and instead of Michigan and Wisconsin, I stayed in the small city of Jiujiang, China. I spent a week with a family, in which two of the six members could speak English. We climbed mountains, sat by waterfalls, and hugged bamboo. The phrase I learned the fastest was, “hen piao liang!”

It’s so pretty. It’s still so pretty.

This motif has played out through my whole life. I take a step back, I look at the world, and everything I see amazes me. This big, beautiful, strong world, that at the same time can be so small, bleeding, and fragile. It’s complex. It’s messy. It’s hen piao liang.

A Chinese friend asked me how to pray. I told her my favorite Anne Lamott quote, that there are three types of prayers: Help, Thanks, and Wow. But you don’t close your eyes, she said. I don’t need to close my eyes, I told her. As Anne Shirley said,

“I just feel a prayer.”