Does beauty ever seem like a privilege to you?
I am not talking about bodily beauty, although a different kind of article could be written on that.
At a time when we are bombarded by stories of tragedy, violence and pandemic, I sometimes feel badly about desiring beauty in my life.
Why should I want a lighted candle or fresh flowers on the table when evil seems to abound? Is creating space for beauty something that only the privileged to get to do? In other words, do I get to think about beauty because I live in a safe area, experience overall financial stability, and don’t experience injustice on a daily basis?
If I remove myself from the equation for a moment, beauty on its own has power. As Dostoevsky said, “Beauty will change the world.”
How many people over time have marveled at nature, music, art, food, the human figure and falling in love as things of beauty. Beauty seems to speak to the soul of humanity.
However I am feeling before a morning walk with my kids, when that fresh morning air hits my face and fills my lungs, I revive. I look ahead and see the fog lifting and sun lighting ridges on a mountain. A smile of surprise on the face of one of my children; Elizabeth’s unencumbered curly hair tossing and blowing about; the smell of granola baking in the oven making cinnamon waft through the air; bits of unplanned, playful nature in the midst of development. For me, these are things of beauty. They bring joy to my soul.
Listening to music is an experience of the beautiful for my husband. I can picture him laying on the sofa, eyes shut, music on, mind relaxed.
I think natural, simple beauty brings me joy because it takes me out of myself. I am not worrying about me, ruminating over something that doesn’t actually matter, anxious about who knows what.
Beauty brings me into a space of gratitude. I remember that I am not in total control, I am not the Creator. And that is a good thing. There is a Creator who is deserving of my love, adoration and praise.
When beauty grounds and inspires us toward goodness and truth, I think we might consider it to be necessary for a healthy soul. Every person is worthy of experiencing beauty in their life.
I don’t know how my kids would define beauty, or if they could, but they probably understand it better than I do. Because they ponder, wonder and treasure. Like Mary pondering the treasure of Christ within her womb in her heart (Lk. 2:19).
I also can’t help but think that Jesus knew how to appreciate the beauty his Father created. Don’t you think he sat on the beach every once in a while, looking out over the sea? Breathing in the salted air deeply, saying, “Thank you, Father.”
If we allow ourselves to be inspired by beauty, I think God will move us farther. He will move us out of ourselves to bring beauty and goodness to others. To reach out to someone lonely, to write a note to someone far away, to make a meal for a family who needs it, to say “I love you” more often, to feed and clothe the hungry and naked.
What more beautiful thing could there be than to experience being loved by the Creator, and move outward into loving others in return.
Just like that mustard seed, perhaps the small seeds of beauty – the lighted candle, the fresh flowers, the praise of God for his creation, the small acts of service – can grow and flourish into something that more closely resembles God’s Kingdom.