It was the worst, hardest week of 2016. I was blindsided with issues and dynamics and baggage that I didn’t want to think about but couldn’t get away from. I felt as limp and anemic as an over-cooked strand of linguine, and tears would drip without warning. But I lived in an institution and had to be presentable most of the time, so I breathed deep and kept my head down.
And it “just happened” that at the end of that horrible, terrible week, I went with friends to Cleveland hear the American Boy Choir. On 2-hour the drive up, my friends sang choir songs with their beautiful voices, and I listened and soaked it up and wondered at how voices can be so beautiful and so harmonious and accurate. The boys’ concert, in a gorgeous stone church, was these exquisite waves of sound soaring up and wrapping around and giving delight. Outside, the tulips were blooming bright and the sky was clear and the breeze fresh with spring. On the way back, we took turns reading to each other from Peralandra. My friends had no idea of my turmoil (unless they noticed the tears that leaked out when I closed my eyes to rest.) The time filled with easy conversation and comaradarie and simple enjoyment.
That evening, I felt washed and clean, because beauty had soothed and rested and refreshed me enough to start the hard work of addressing the things that were tormenting me. I learned that day how important beauty is in giving wholeness and balance to a soul that is fragmented and given to extremes.
Beauty comes in many forms.
- musical harmony
- color, shade, shadow
- order, simplicity
- surprise, serendipity
- smiles, tears
- laughter, giggles
- shared jokes
- rest, quiet
- water, sunshine
We are a very practical people, and if something isn’t useful in some way, we tend to discount its value. If this is always our modus operandi, I think we miss out on the beauty that’s bursting all around us, and our souls suffer for not feasting on it. We shrivel and wither and are less than the people God wanted us to be when He dreamed us up.
Or maybe it’s just me whose soul needs beauty like lungs need air? Or like leaves need rain?
I only know that when I heard a friend tell her incredible love story, I felt washed and refreshed because it was so beyond-words-beautiful. Or when I painted something, I felt like a new person. Or when I walked around the block and saw the brilliant sunset colors that filled me with gasps, I felt washed clean. Or when an instructor came to me that terrible week to say “I noticed you looked troubled yesterday in class. Were you in distress or did you have allergies? [I’d been crying my eyes out just before walking into class.] Are you ok?” The beauty of concern gave an increment of healing that will always stay with me.
Words, stories, color, love–these reflect God whose character is beauty, rest, and delight. For us to witness and enter into beauty is part of knowing God’s character better and becoming more healed, whole, and true to His design for us. It is a travesty for Christians to be shriveled, negative, and whining when they know the most beautiful Person ever and the world is dying for lack of hope and light and joy.
Moses said: And let the beauty [delight, splendor, grace] of the Lord our God be upon us… (Psalm 90:17)
We can start by opening our eyes and ears and hearts to that splendor and beauty.