Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read
Original Post Date: July 25, 2011
I am not the most tuned-in observer in the world. Often my wife will recall the colors and decorations of a room. There was a color on the walls? I missed it. I am learning to notice such subtleties, partly because we are working on creating a coffee bar atmosphere in our church building’s lobby. Now I notice the ceilings, floors, and artwork in Starbucks and Panera Bread. We want to create the same kind of feel in our space. I notice décor now, so that we can replicate it in our building. Leave it to me to make beauty utilitarian.
I think there is a greater purpose for beauty. God made this world functional with amazing attention to detail. But God also made this world beautiful. The sun rises and sets every day, creating the right conditions for life. But this same sun often inspires awe as it crosses the horizon. Why did God choose to make this world beautiful?
Not only does beauty reveal God’s glory, it has power to transform us. I read about an abused young woman in a counseling center who would stare for hours at a flower, soaking in its beauty. She was experiencing the beauty. She was being healed.
Beauty calls us to something higher. We know our own imperfections, but beauty reminds us that Christ is perfecting us. It reminds us that there is purpose in this universe and that we are part of God’s story.
Beauty reminds us that there is goodness. We are caught up in the details of life and lose perspective. Perversely, we dwell on the negative. Beauty assures us that there is good all around us in God’s creation.
Beauty gives us hope. Discouragement stalks us fallen creatures. But somehow, beauty inspires us to keep trying, to persevere, to anticipate better days.
Beauty points us to heaven. Some situations are so overwhelming that we can’t find the good and can’t find the end. On those days, I dream of heaven, of being in the Lord’s presence. The beauty here gives me a glimpse of the beauty I will experience some day with the Lord.
It is not enough to recognize beauty; we need to look for it and experience it.
Obviously, we can find beauty in the natural world. Today it may take considerable effort to experience nature. My heart goes out to anyone who has to work in an office with no windows. But even in an urban setting, a walk around the block gets us out in the sun and breeze. In my favorite retreat spots, you can’t even hear cars passing by. You can hear the birds, watch the squirrels, and listen to the wind in the trees.
Beauty is not only found in nature. We can also find beauty in art, in aromas, in a good meal, in words, in mathematics. There is no shortage of beauty. We need to recognize it and then experience it.
To experience beauty we need to do more than sprint through a flower garden. Experiencing beauty takes time. It can’t be rushed. This may be part of God’s intention for Sabbath. We need to slow down enough to encounter God’s beauty. Then we can drink in the detail, follow the lines, note the textures, and contemplate the meaning.
We have a capacity to experience beauty. The greater our capacity, the richer our experience of life. The good thing is that our capacity can grow. The more we experience beauty, the more we can experience beauty. This draws us closer to God and helps us love him more.
Right now God is stretching my capacity to experience beauty. I want to savor my meals, and enjoy the sunsets. I may actually notice the paint on the walls.