You don't need to travel far to find beauty. God has strewn beauty across the globe in such generous portions we have only to stop and notice, paying particular attention to the intimate. Yes, epic beauty is worth traveling to see–the Himalaya, the Maasai Mara, Yosemite, any tropic island. But intimate beauty is just as healing, perhaps more so, and available everywhere. (I shared the St. Albans story to remind my urban readers beauty can be found even in noisy, congested cities.)
Really—beauty is all around us. In the shimmering shadows sunlight creates through any foliage. The intricate pattern and color of tree bark (stop and look; touch it). The way sunlight falls on your kitchen table in the morning. The grain of wood. Songbirds in your neighborhood. Fabric. Candlelight. The infinitely creative patterns of frost. The frost on the stalks of dried grasses this morning looked like tiny gladiolas made of glass or the calligraphy of fairies. Water in almost any form. Water on a blade of grass. Water drops on leaves. Leaves themselves—their shape, texture, the lacelike patterns running through them. A field of grass, especially as the wind plays through it. Fields of corn, wheat, any crop. The stars, the moon in all its phases. Rainwashed streets in the city at night, drops of water on your windshield. Human faces are infinitely beautiful. And I have not even mentioned flowers, vases, music, fine art, and the beautiful things we use to decorate our homes.
Given beauty’s healing effects, given how it soothes the soul and opens us up to the goodness of God, I hope you will intentionally do two things:
Receive it for the gift it is! Pause, and let the beauty minister to you. I receive this into my soul. Too often we just notice and go on, like a pedestrian who steps over a hundred-dollar bill lying on the sidewalk. Stop and pick it up! In these moments you open yourself and receive the beauty, the gift, the grace—receive it into your being. Let it bring to you God’s love, his tenderness, his rich goodness. We live so braced, not openly, but quite subtly—braced for the day, braced by the assault on our attention, braced by the noise around us.
Pause when you are offered beauty and make the conscious decision, I receive this grace. We open our clenched soul to let it in. To find God in it. I will often pray, Thank you for this beauty. I receive it into my soul. And with it I receive you, in it, by it, through it—your love, your goodness, your life.
That receiving part is key.