Monthly Archives: January 2017

Beauty is a window to the Transcendent

dsc05244We all crave Beauty.  And our lives saturate us in faux-beauty.  It’s like feeding a starving man a stack of Pringles instead of an honest potato.   It’s gotten so that we conflate one with the other.  And yet.  And yet.  Beauty, because of its ability to show us transcendence, cannot truly be counterfeited.

We hunger for that touch of the wild, the touch of the pure, the touch of the reality-beyond-reality that true Beauty brings us.   The hunger for Beauty cannot be fed by anything except Beauty itself.    The hunger for Beauty is part of our hunger for God.

So they ask us to define Beauty – is it red lips or pink, roses or eagles or the sound of a violin?  And the answer is … perhaps.  Because Beauty is a window, how can you define it by what you see?  The view is ever-changing.  The definition of Beauty is in the piercing of your heart, the joy that robs you of breath, the definition of Beauty is found in the soul – not in the mind.

Because Beauty opens us to God, opens us to our desperate hunger for His presence in our lives, Beauty is important.  Beauty invites the observer into a place where he can experience awe, can be touched by that which is outside of himself, therefore the creation of Beauty is an important pastime.

Because Beauty is transcendent, it is not always easy to create.  But if we cannot create Beauty, we can at least reduce ugliness.  We can repudiate lies.  We can restore order.  Beauty is true.  It is in truth.  Falseness can never be beauty.

I cannot imagine a culture more fed to the gills with faux-beauty than our own.  The battle to create Beauty, in small things or in large, is important.   Our culture is Laodicean at its core.

Revelation 3:17  Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,

Feeding the hunger for the Transcendent God by opening the window of Beauty and letting His light shine through is a worthy goal, and one in which we can all share.

Pursue Beauty.  Pause and give Awe room in your life.  Allow the sight of the Almighty to transform your countenance, to fill you with joy.   Allow yourself to become Beauty, that others can see Him in you.

Beauty is an intrinsic good.

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It always comes back to people

Why do we do the things we do?  We do them for people.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

While we wear human flesh, while we live in a material world, while we suffer hunger and thirst … it is natural that we focus on physical things.  It is even good, within bounds.  The hungry should be fed, justice should be pursued, beauty should be created, houses need to be built and cleaned.. there are things to be done.

But we lose sight of the first thing when we lose sight of why we do these things.  We do these things for other people.  We build houses for the joy of building – but also so that the children can grow up in a house, because that gives them a better start in life.  We cook meals to nourish bodies.   We create civilizations because they’re the best places for humans to grow.  We do these things because God tells us to do these things, but the things are not the end in themselves, it is service to God, service to others that is the driving force.

It is easy to drop into Martha Syndrome (it applies to both men and women) where you concentrate so much on the work to be done that you don’t stop to focus on the “why”.  And “why” is *always* people.  Souls will last to eternity, physical things, however worthy, will burn.

So be kind.  Be merciful.  Look for opportunities to express love.  Prioritize others’ welfare above your own.  Remember that Mary was considered to have chosen the better path.

Work is good.   Love is better.