Saturday, February 25, 2012

God is in the Beauty

The kingdom of God reveals itself through the beauty in this world. The fact that we speak of beauty and recognize beauty and distinguish beauty from the alternative evidences the existence of God. In a materialist’s world all we would have would be stimulus responses; everything would simply be, and therefore preclude aesthetics. The closest one might come to conceiving beauty in such a godless world would be when considering something useful. But in this our real world, our notions of beauty roam far beyond that which practically fulfills our needs. Indeed, beauty can sometimes be hazardous to our existence, such as standing atop a mountain overlooking a panorama stretching out three hundred sixty degrees, thousands of feet below.

What is beauty? Well, it has oft been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. True, how we view ourselves and the world will certainly influence our aesthetics. Sure, some people might pawn off something truly ugly as beautiful because it gratifies some hidden rage, fear, or sickness, or gets a response, such as a laugh in embarrassment of a dirty joke. But I’m talking about a transcendent beauty that everyone would confess as beautiful, if asked, when the truth wouldn’t cost them anything.

It is valuable to contemplate this transcendent beauty because, as I said, we will always find God there. One discipline to help keep us in God’s kingdom and fixed on King Jesus is to step back and open our eyes to the beauty that permeates this dark and all too often ugly world. And one way to reveal God’s kingdom to this same dark world is to remind it of this beauty. So we see that beauty is, well, a beautiful thing.

To put my paintbrush where my mouth is, I offer for your consideration the following collection of recent observations.

Some mornings I awake to sunshine pressing against the shutters with such determined vibrancy, it nearly knocks me over when I let it in.


I enjoy watching my neighbor dutifully walking his or her dog that, obviously intoxicated by the fresh air and opportunity, invariably will test the limits of its lead to sniff, spot, and study his way down the lane.


Sometimes a young mother stops to chat; her baby boy--usually with only one foot fully sock clad, with the other bare or with a sock dangling--coos, leans against her, then sits up; sucking on his dimpled hand he listens and watches wide-eyed to the conversation, facial expressions, colors, sounds, gestures, and other things we have long since become insensible to—quietly taking it all in for that day when he will leave her embrace.


Other times the laughter of children can be heard as they run in and out of sprinklers on a hot afternoon, draw pictures on the driveway and sidewalks with fat pieces of colored chalk, circle their friends on scooters, and fall backwards on the wet lawn, lost in their mirth, dreams, and the timeless moment of summer.


There was that poignant moment that passed beyond my grasp like a loud echo fading away, when my daughter, radiant in her wedding dress and luminous as a perfectly cut diamond, floated across the room like a swan gliding silently on a water mirror, leaving in her train a wake of memories. Then, in the manner of that mythological cygnet, she dipped her head in contemplation and then lifted toward the sun.


And those intimate moments at dinner, oblivious to the busyness of the servers and the discordant talking thickening the atmosphere around us, when I gaze into my wife’s eyes sparkling in the dim candle light as she laughs discretely at a joke only the two of us know, and touches my hand, wordlessly leaving nothing unsaid.


An old woman took my hand the other day, clutching it as if it were life. She told snippets of bygone days with her deceased husband, saying how pleased he would have been with his funeral, and smiled at me with brave eyes. Even as she greeted others, the melancholy widow unwittingly held my hand for a strength that had been taken from her and as an anchor against drifting away too soon in to a brief yet certain loneliness. We stood together resolutely—I a second heart beat--until courage pulled her hand away.