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Uselessness Is Gorgeous

When we moved into our new (temporary) home last month, the garden patch was arid – mostly because the house has been unoccupied for a few years. Then, last week we had our first rain, and this week, behold what sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere. rain lilies Yes, this whole bunch of yellow rain lilies! These bulbs hid in the dry ground, biding their time (slowing down?), and then burst open into loveliness. Lilies got me thinking of John Ruskin and what he said about beautiful things.

“Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies for instance.” John Ruskin

(Funnily,our new place now has an abundance of both – peacocks and lilies!)

It seems that uselessness is gorgeous!

Most often, we use the word ‘useless’ as an insult. Our lives are often a race to prove just how useful and indispensable we are. Where does that stem from? Our insecurity? Will the world stop turning, if we took time to nurture ourselves and nourish our souls?

And you–what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down– papers, plans, appointments, everything– leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming…. ~ Lynn Ungar from her poem Camas Lilies

In his book, Lifesigns,  Henri Nouwen talks about people who volunteer at L’Arche to work with the mentally disabled. To many, he says, it might seem like time wasted, working with ‘useless’ people : “To anyone trying to succeed in our society, which is oriented toward efficiency and control, these people are wasting their time. What they do is highly inefficient, unsuccessful, and even useless.” He goes on to say that it is in this ‘useless’ work that God’s perfect love for all people is revealed!

Uselessness is something I want to ponder upon…….

Who better to teach José and me about the power of uselessness than our big, useless, lovely dog? Here he is being his useless self, taking time to smell the flowers!

uselessness is gorgeous


  1. […] lilies that sprung us a surprise by popping up all over our front garden patch? I wrote about them here. We got them transplanted into a flower bed and hoped that they would flower again next year. Guess […]

  2. […] to meet. Places to go. People to network with. Stillness? It makes me uncomfortable. Stillness? A luxury I can’t afford. And yet… Stillness Is all I truly need Today and […]

  3. […] I’m grateful for in the past week, but before that, I’d like to share with you one of Henri Nouwen’s experiences. As you might have figured out, if you’re a regular reader, he is one of my […]

  4. […] lilies that sprung us a surprise by popping up all over our front garden patch? I wrote about them here. We got them transplanted into a flower bed and hoped that they would flower again next year. Guess […]

  5. Debbie Debbie July 19, 2014

    Your dog is adorable, Corinne; definitely NOT useless. ♥ Sometimes, those that appear to serve no useful purpose are the most useful of all. 🙂
    Debbie recently posted..SOLITUDE – PHOTO FRIDAYMy Profile

  6. Pixie Pixie July 18, 2014

    huh! That made me pause and think.. its so true! we are in such a hurry to keep doing something or the other, we forget to take time to smell the flowers.. to admire the beauty around us!
    thought provoking post Corinne and please do share a pic or two of the peacocks as well! 🙂
    Pixie recently posted..A rant, a prompt and some randomnessMy Profile

  7. Loni Townsend Loni Townsend July 17, 2014

    When it comes to humans, I’m guilty of associating the word “useless” to “lazy”. In that context, I can see how the word useless gets a bad rap. But your post reminds me that the real meaning of the word is something different.

    And really, the use of flowers is to bring joy and pleasure, so I wouldn’t call them useless. 🙂
    Loni Townsend recently posted..Soulless Cover RevealMy Profile

  8. usha menon usha menon July 16, 2014

    A very sweet and inspiring post. Nothing is useless. It is how we look at things that make or mar them. Your beautiful yellow flowers are lucky for you. All the best,Corinne to you and your wonderful family,including Pablo. God bless you.

  9. Obsessivemom Obsessivemom July 13, 2014

    How can something beautiful that brings so much pleasure be useless? I love the bright yellow… Really it cheers one up like few other colours. Have a happy time in your new home Corinne.

  10. rudraprayaga rudraprayaga July 13, 2014

    Nothing is useless in this world. That which are discarded titling useless may turn most useful at a point of time. a very good read.

  11. Michelle Liew Michelle Liew July 12, 2014

    Uselessness, ironically, reminds us of the truly useful little things! Your little dog just reminded us of that!
    Michelle Liew recently posted..Trust’s FlowMy Profile

  12. Pam Pam July 12, 2014

    I just love the way you see the beauty in everything. Thanks for always sharing your positivity!

  13. Suzy Suzy July 12, 2014

    It’s always a joy to suddenly see flowers in your garden. I’m not sure I agree with your thoughts on useless. I think all creatures have a purpose and all things in God’s world are useful. I’m with Carol, our pets give us so much love and joy and boost our self worth and well being. I could never classify them as useless. Yes blobbing out and simply being is very therapeutic and healthy and necessary for healing and for that it is gorgeous.
    Suzy recently posted..UBC Jul 12 – The Big PictureMy Profile

  14. Aditi Aditi July 12, 2014

    Prettiness! ! Love both the pics and this thought provoking post! You’ve given the word ‘useless’ a whole bew dimension…
    Aditi recently posted..The CurseMy Profile

  15. Sulekha Sulekha July 12, 2014

    The lilies are the first of many surprises coming your lovely way, Corinne. Goodness follows people and spreads beauty around them, have a happy stay at Hyderabad. We should learn from Pablo about stopping to smell the flowers 🙂

  16. Proactive Indian Proactive Indian July 12, 2014

    Nothing is useless. About a year back, Sweden imported 80,000 tons of garbage from Norway because they did not have sufficient garbage for their waste-to-energy incineration program.
    Proactive Indian recently posted..The Trust FactorMy Profile

  17. richa singh richa singh July 12, 2014

    Yay you moved into a new place and see it is already blooming with happiness 🙂 pablo looks super cute there 😀 And well I thoroughly believe in uselessness is gorgeous, I pretty much be of no use to anyone myself 😛
    richa singh recently posted..Controlling the blogger’s block!My Profile

  18. Swathi Shenoy Swathi Shenoy July 12, 2014

    It really takes a keen observer to find beauty in useless things! And you definitely are one keen observer Corinne 🙂 The rain lilies look beautiful 🙂 Can’t really term them useless now 😉
    Swathi Shenoy recently posted..Last Conversation!My Profile

  19. Carol Graham Carol Graham July 12, 2014

    Such a beautiful quote “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming” Now, I know you don’t really look at your dog as useless….do you? All the love he gives you — he is USEFUL! I have known many ‘throw-away’ people who give me the biggest hugs and the best smiles and they make my day. How could anyone label them as useless. So sad.

  20. Reema D'souza Reema D'souza July 12, 2014

    Loved the message. Some times the things which we think of as useless will be the most useful ones at some point of time.
    Reema D’souza recently posted..I love you too!My Profile

  21. Dorothy Johnson Dorothy Johnson July 12, 2014

    Beautiful post. I also love the quote, “Gone to the fields to be lovely.” I have a friend who often encouraged people to “just be” for a season so they can commune with God. I always think in the USA that it’s our Puritan heritage, but in reading your post, I realize it’s a universal need to be feel we are useful because we equate it with success as you noted. Thank you! I’ve been “lovely at the beach this the past week.”
    Dorothy Johnson recently posted..More Lessons from the BeachMy Profile

  22. Laurel Regan Laurel Regan July 12, 2014

    “Gone to the fields to be lovely.” That struck me with its beauty – and also brought a smile to my face, as Peter occasionally urges me to slow down, get off the computer or put down my iPad, and come sit with him “and be lovely”. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂
    Laurel Regan recently posted..Photo Friday: Black and WhiteMy Profile

  23. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando July 12, 2014

    Another thoughtful and inspiring post, Corinne. With you, I think some of our seemingly useless moments are actually our most valuable. It took me many years to learn that lesson, and I’m glad it finally sunk in!
    The flowers and, of course, Pedro are uselessly precious! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..A Time for Every Purpose . . .My Profile

  24. roshan r roshan r July 12, 2014

    that last pic! Your dog is so obedient.. my dog would just pluck it all out n carry it back to the front door and start making his own flower carpet !!
    roshan r recently posted..The strongest oneMy Profile

  25. My Inner Chick My Inner Chick July 12, 2014

    “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming**

    l o v e l y.

    Even Uselessness is Something-ness!!

    — loved this post, Corinne. x
    My Inner Chick recently posted..I Was Blind, But Now I SeeMy Profile

  26. Beloo Mehra Beloo Mehra July 11, 2014

    This is lovely! The vibrant yellow of the rain lilies really goes to prove that new life can spring up in the most useless conditions provided the grace is there. And what is rain but a sign of grace? 🙂 Your post reminds me of something I wrote on my blog some time ago titled – “All Art is Useless”, based on Oscar Wilde’s preface to his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
    I will join you in pondering over the “useless” 🙂
    Beloo Mehra recently posted..From Those Other WorldsMy Profile

  27. Shesha Shesha July 11, 2014

    It is a beautiful and deep post! How easily you connected uselessness to life. In that uselessness we nourish our lives, fall into love, write or paint, enhance our relationships and cherish the beauty around us… I cant agree more with you, each and every word makes super-sense to me!

  28. Judy - Pedagogical Artist Judy - Pedagogical Artist July 11, 2014

    How intriguing, Corine! What gorgeous treasures come with the rain. Actually, I thought that your post was going in another direction: hidden beauty and hidden treasure. So much of the beauty in our world is hidden beneath dry ground, all it takes is a bit of nurturing for it to blossom.
    Uselessness … hmm … I have never thought about it as something negative. I love being useless, means that people don’t need me. I have always felt that my best lessons are those that flow without me … when everyone knows what to do and I can be “useless”.
    It saddens me that some people, like you wrote, see others as useless – in the negative way. Like your lilies, we never know what treasures are hidden beneath. Thank you so much for stirring my thoughts. HUGS <3

  29. Susan Susan July 11, 2014

    I absolutely love the Lynn Ungar quote. That made me smile.
    And what a special treat to see these precious flowers suddenly grow and bloom.
    Susan recently posted..How to Plan a Family StaycationMy Profile

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