Simone Weil was absolutely right—beauty and affliction are the only two things that can pierce our hearts. Because this is so true, we must have a measure of beauty in our lives proportionate to our affliction. No, more. Much more. 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.
I am at a loss to say what I want to say regarding beauty. Somehow, that is as it ought to be. Our experience of beauty transcends our ability to speak about it, for its magic lies beyond the power of words.
I want to speak of beauty’s healing power, of how it comforts and soothes, yet also how it stirs us, how it moves and inspires. All that sounds ridiculous. You know your own experiences of beauty. Let me call upon them then. Think of your favorite music, or tapestry, or landscape. “We have had a couple of inspiring sunsets this week.” A dear friend sent this in an e-mail: “It was as if the seams of our atmosphere split for a bit of heaven to plunge into the sea. I stood and applauded ... simultaneously I wanted to kneel and weep.” Yes—that’s it. All I want to do is validate those irreplaceable moments, lift any obstacle you may have to filling your life with greater and greater amounts of beauty.
We need not fear indulging here. The experience of beauty is unique to all the other pleasures in this: there is no possessive quality to it. Just because you love the landscape doesn’t mean you have to acquire the real estate. Simply to behold the flower is enough; there is nothing in me that wants to consume it. Beauty is the closest thing we have to fullness without possessing on this side of eternity. It heralds the Great Restoration. Perhaps that is why it is so healing—beauty is pure gift. It helps us in our letting go.
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