Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Gives Life

"In all ranks of life, the human heart yearns for the beautiful; and the beautiful things that God makes are his gift to all alike."
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

The snow came down, carpeting the earth in splendor of newness, frozen rebirth. Life.
I am not an artist. But He is. And I don't need to do or be best or create. I need only


In and out, pulses of His Heart beat mine-because beauty does this. Beauty restores our souls and makes us one with our Creator. Is there any other reason He tells us:

 " Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
~ Philippians 4:8

No. He is not just giving us another set of rules and obligations. He is showing us the way to LIVE. To BREATHE.

And two sets of footprints course frozen earth in search of beauty, in search of meaning.
If we do not seek the beautiful, it is because our hearts have hardened.
Like reaching for the bag of chips when our bodies crave the baked potato,


Yet we walk away unsatisfied and empty, because artificiality and death do NOT breathe. They SMOTHER.

And we become what we eat.

"The beauty seen, is partly in him who sees it."

The more we yearn for the beautiful, the more beautiful we become.
The more beautiful we are, the more we yearn for the beautiful.

"Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I'd look up into the sky - up, up, up - into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer."

— L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)

"The soul, by an instinct stronger than reason, ever associates beauty with truth."

So how do we go about feeding our souls with the beautiful.  How do we cultivate beauty in a world gone wrong?
Anne Morrow Lindbergh takes this perspective on beauty, gifts from the sea :

It must not be sought for or-heaven forbid dug for. No, no dredging of the sea bottom here. That would defeat one's purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, choiceless as a beach~ waiting for a gift from the sea.

(From Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From The Sea)

Some days my eyes and heart are so clouded with the heaviness of life that just opening my eyes is LABOR . I have to birth the lovely, and the contractions of  birthing life burn deep.
The first step to seeing beauty, then, is opening our eyes. We have to want something in order to get it!  We have to first choose beauty, then peel back the eyelids of our soul.
Sometimes this is the hardest step.

" I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."
~Psalm 121:1-2

We must ask with a yearning in our hearts for God to show us the beautiful, the lovely...not just feasts for our eyes, but for our minds and hearts as well- our thoughts, the words that come from our mouths, what we choose to watch and imitate. There is no such thing as harmless death ,and

Ugliness is death to the soul.

We can't always get away from the ugly, but we can do our best to avoid it when possible. And when it's not possible, we must embrace that ugliness as a cross, not as something that is beneficial in itself, but only as a means to unite with God, a share of His suffering.

Once we have opened our eyes, we must start small.

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.

~William Blake

Look around, wherever you are, for the patches of beauty God has placed right beneath your feet, under your nose, a handshake away...
When you catch a glimpse of that beauty. Behold. Notice the way the light hits each facet. Close your eyes. See it again, in your mind's eye. How does this piece of God-earth stir your soul?

Funny- the way the light was hitting the snow today brought back the memory of Sunday roasts in my home-kitchen. When I was young, my mother would often cook roasts on winter Sundays. Right at about 4:00, the sunlight would stream in the kitchen door, hitting the wood stove, mingled with the smell of roasting potatoes and Rosemary. Standing in the snow today, seeing that same light, closing my eyes, I could smell the sizzling roast, the fragrant Rosemary.

And do you know what? You don't have to live in the wild to experience beauty. Next time you find a pine cone, pick it up and marvel at its beauty.

The design, intricate, the way each barbed scale folds together to form a rosette. All this planned so symmetrically, the design of a loving Creator who cared about the details...the scales on a pine cone, the hairs on our heads.

"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
~Matthew 10:30

Just today, a dear friend of mine said that Red-winged blackbirds saved her from despair when she was a young girl in the hospital. She said that she would watch the birds, and the way the light reflected off of their wings filled her with hope.

No, you need not GO to partake in beauty. It is everywhere.

He is everywhere.

There is such a thing as barbed beauty- the beautiful which seems distasteful from all outward appearances. There is nothing more beautiful than what one of my friends does for her mother every day- changes her diaper, feeds her, meeting her every need, day after day.

Serving our children, changing diapers, grubby pots and pans-all barbed beauty, but beauty, nonetheless and

We are storing up eternal treasure.
(Matthew 6:20)

We also cultivate beauty in our lives by weeding out the ugly.

Stop...throw it out, turn it off, refuse it, cut it at the root. JUST SAY NO TO UGLINESS. You may miss it at first, but if you replace the ugly with the beautiful, your soul will be fed, and you will thrive.
You will have life. You will be filled.
You will live.

What are some of the ways you are cultivating beauty in your life? Kindly enter a link to your relevant post: