Or does it?
“I don’t have the strength to engage beauty.”
He said it with resignation. I have been sitting with his statement for a while now. Does it really take energy to interact with beauty? For me, at least the past decade or so, my receptors have been maturing in all things aesthetic. Whether it be nature or music or woven words or visual art I sense a wooing, like someone saying “pssst, over here, look!” Receiving comes fairly easy, yet I think my friend is right. It is not effortless. Beauty doesn’t come barging in without knocking. We have to be open.
Then I asked myself how a person can get to a point where beauty becomes a beast. Before awakened by a poem over a decade ago, why was I walking by roses with my nose in the air? Why was the thought of engaging a rose a thorn in my flesh?
I asked my friend why he didn’t have the strength.
“There is too much crap in my life. It has drained me. I don’t have an ounce left to see how you see right now.”
I know his life and he is absolutely right. There is a lot of crap. It takes energy to ‘deal’ with crap too. Then I wondered if I am living in a state of denial because there is crap in my life too. I began asking myself if I was delusional. Am I not ‘dealing’ with it? I’ll ask my wife. She will know.
In the mean time I ache. The ache is for my friend and others who don’t have an ounce to spare. They stop to smell the roses and all they feel is the prick of a thorn.
I asked another friend for thoughts on this topic and the response added new light.
“Hurt and pain creates walls.
Anger creates a thick buffer to beauty,
stiff arming, and squeezing eyes shut.
The truth of it, though,
is that once you open to beauty
it feeds…it does not drain/pull/deplete.”
Openness to beauty is a perspective. It is an attitude. It is almost an altitude. A rising above, suspending, transcending the crap of this life in which we live. There is hurt and pain in this life. Anyone saying it doesn’t exist is delusional. But in and through the sharp points grows life up to the buds, petals, color, and grace of beauty.
Give us eyes to see.
It takes faith, trust, and hope to allow ourselves to receive beauty, because at any moment the uglies of existence can block our view.
“Beauty for ashes” is my prayer, and the grace to receive the beauty.
“Give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them ‘Oaks of Righteousness’ planted by God to display his glory.” Isaiah 61:3 The Message
This discussion could go on for quite a while. Do you have any thoughts on this? Care to join in?
Here is the first part of my response. I saw it this morning before I came here and thought that I might need it for something today! Enchantment
Beauty gives us strength in a way some others aspects of our lives never will. I think particularly of natural beauty. There are so many visuals that most people just miss…..a herd of deer grazing in a field, a full moon staring from a starry sky, a field of dandelions or yellow mustard glowing along the highway (yes, I know they’re weeds, but still….). By breathing in beauty in our world, it gives us a moment of respite the way a child’s hug, or a mother’s hug, does. This time of year is particularly re-energizing, when we see the colors of nature at their peak (to be outdone, maybe, only by the colors of fall), and their most unique. A redbud tree, the first green grass, tulips ablaze with a rainbow of colors – can anything be more glorious? And all of this reminds us of the power of God, of his gentle mercy, and his constant presence in our lives. If we but pay attention…..
So aptly worded. Thanks for your thoughts
One of the things I realized about my late wife is how she was attracted to beauty. She was an artist and when we saw one of Michelangelo’s Pietas, she wept. When I preached a sermon on Rembrandt’s “Prodigal” she wanted to travel to St. Petersburg to see it. She loved hosting company because it was an opportunity to set a lovely table for them. It was so helpful for me finally to understand this about her. I suspect many Christians have been taught to disdain beauty, but I think this is wrong-headed. I think God’s beauty comes from his absolute, radiant holiness. Maybe glimpsing real beauty is glimpsing a bit of holiness. I am not thinking of artificially created beauty (eg makeup), but real beauty that occurs naturally in this world like the graceful meandering of the Hudson River through the Catskill mountains of New York.
“Maybe glimpsing real beauty is glimpsing a bit of holiness. Let’s keep glimpsing. Thanks for your thoughts. I have cried at beauty a few times too Rich
When I’m behind the lens of my camera, what do I see? What do I want to capture and keep as a memory to enjoy and share? It all depends on where I put my focus.
Keep focusing on the beauty and yet there is redemptive possibilities in things which appear not so lovely.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from a man who had very little; who said to “look at what you have, not what you don’t, and feel gratitude.” There have been times in my life that I’ve been so bogged down that I truly thought I’d never see the end of trouble but that gratitude gave me strength and kept compounding. God never promised us no trouble…just that we’d never go through it alone.
Encouraging thoughts Pat. I believe that gratefullness is a key aspect of catching beauty.
I have held this post in my reader for some reason and not read it until today. I took a little writing break and wrote again yesterday. While away I tried to focus on other things around me. i took a lovely trip to an acquaintance’s yard to photograph his roses. This post, jerry, captures the essence of how I have been tried to see and live and write only as of fairly recently. You help me see why in these vulnerable words. Yes pain saps strength and compresses vision. May I share this post. i am very very crazy about it!! Thank you for echoing my soul.
I am grateful you connected with these word! Absolutely share! God bless
so true that anger and pain creates walls and buffers and cuts us off the beauty around us…it’s difficult to see the good and beautiful things then as it also creates a tunnel view on life.. it needs grace and a friend to help the one who’s going to a tough time to see again..
Thanks C. May we have the ability to loosen and cast off the rough edges of the world and receive beauty in the fullest way possible.
Sometimes beauty gives us strength for the journey, respite for the soul.
For sure. Thanks.