Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thoughts on beauty

Last Saturday when I went to Yosemite, I wasn't just looking for some pretty pictures. I was discouraged about a few things, and my heart needed to experience some beauty. It needed to receive the messages beauty brings.

When I'm confronted with God's lavish, generous, wild beauty, it ministers to my heart like nothing else. It speaks of a God who IS beauty. Things like waterfalls, stately forests, massive granite peaks, snow-clad slopes...these are all expressions of who he is. He is perfectly beautiful, and perfectly good. He put us on an earth that is overflowing with beauty.

I love the way John Eldredge puts it: "Is this not God’s prescription for us? Just take a look around. The sights and sounds, the aromas and sensations—the world is overflowing with beauty. God seems to be rather enamored with it. Gloriously wasteful. Apparently, he feels that there ought to be plenty of it in our lives."

"Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as He tells us what we need."

"We need what Beauty speaks. What it says is hard to put into words. But part of its message is, all is well. All will be well."

Isn't that so true? Whether my emotions are up or down, beauty gives me confidence in what He's doing in my life...all will be well. I need something outside myself to give me that confidence. When I'm unsure of His goodness, I have only to look around and see what amazingly beautiful creations came out of His head.

"Beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses (for our God has seen fit to arrange for this). Nature at the height of its glory shouts, 'Beauty is essential!' revealing that Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of his glory. "

"Beauty is transcendent. It is our most immediate experience of the eternal. Think of what it’s like to behold a gorgeous sunset or the ocean at dawn. Remember the ending of a great story. We yearn to linger, to experience it all our days. Sometimes the beauty is so deep it pierces us with longing. For what? For life as it was meant to be. Beauty reminds us of an Eden we have never known, but somehow know our hearts were created for. Beauty speaks of heaven to come, when all shall be beautiful. It haunts us with eternity. Beauty says, There is a glory calling to you. And if there is a glory, there is a source of glory. What great goodness could have possibly created this? Beauty draws us to God.

"Beauty is powerful. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous. Because it matters. Let us try to explain why.

"First, beauty speaks. Oxford bishop Richard Harries wrote, 'It is the beauty of the created order which gives an answer to our questionings about God.' And we do have questions, don’t we? Questions born out of our disappointments, our sufferings, our fears. ...

"And what does beauty say to us? Think of what it’s like to be caught in traffic for more than an hour. Horns blaring, people shouting obscenities. Exhaust pouring in your windows, suffocating you. Then remember what it’s like to come into a beautiful place, a garden or a meadow or a quiet beach. There is room for your soul. It expands. You can breathe again. You can rest. It is good. All is well. I sit outside on a summer evening and just listen and behold and drink it all in, and my heart begins to quiet and peace begins to come into my soul. My heart tells me that 'all will be well,' as Julian of Norwich concluded. 'And all manner of things will be well.'

"That is what beauty says: All shall be well."

All will be well in my life too. The God who began a good work in me (Phil. 1:6) will finish what He started. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16).  Not just a little joy, or enough to get by -- but fullness. I let His beauty sink in last Saturday...and it brought His comfort and peace.


  1. I just LOVE this post! So well expressed & I completely agree:) Thank you for sharing this!

  2. This is a wonderful post! Thanks so much for taking the time to share that. That first image stopped me for a while. I couldn't even start to read . . . that is such a beautiful image! Keep it up!