I have received a notable number of “Likes” this week for the photo I posted in last weeks’ blog, of the sun rising over a beach. I thought I would write this week about beauty, seeing as it not only inspires me but seems to appeal to others also.
Beautiful things can reach us in ways that nothing else can. There is some stunning beauty to be found in this world. I have had magical moments watching sunrises, sunsets and children playing in sprinklers. I have been mesmerised by gardens in bloom, and awed by the raw majesty of waterfalls. I have been uplifted by the sight of a bird in flight, and settled by the scene of my cat falling asleep.
And yet there are so many more forms of beauty in this world. As a musician, I am particularly captivated by the beauty of music. I love the way that music can take us on a journey, change our mood and change our minds about an issue, all through the use of carefully crafted melodies and chord progressions. In a minute, music can make me sad, angry, energized, restful, grateful, burst into tears and laugh out loud. Some music can make our bodies move, the bob of a head or tap of a foot betraying our enjoyment. Music can reach us where we are, and it can help us reach out to God.
Thinking of our senses, I realize the other forms of beauty I have encountered: the fragrance of fresh flowers or newly-cut grass; the feel of feather-wool running through my fingers; the taste of a finely balanced meal and of crispy bacon. We develop favourites over time: places we want to see again, meals we want to revisit, CDs and playlists we listen to over and over. Beauty has a way of getting under our skin, of awakening memories and reminding us of who we are. Thank God for the infusion of beauty in this world.
There are less tangible forms of beauty also, though just as real and meaningful. There is a certain kind of beauty in working on things that we love and accomplishing our goals. Attaining success at work, feeling the satisfaction of desire meeting reality, can be a lovely thing. For me, the chance to work on music and writing on my day off is per se a form of beauty. These things are ends unto themselves; they may not accomplish anything practical, but they nourish and fulfill us.
Finally, there is relational beauty to be found. From friendships to family to romance, I have experienced relationships that have caused me to smile and take a long breath. Those people in my life who have lifted me up, calmed me down and allowed me to be myself are amongst the most precious to me. These are the people I do not forget. They remind me of God in some way, offering a glimpse of our Creator who made us all in His image. I have had a few friends over the years, both Christian and otherwise, who have surprised me with glimpses of our Heavenly Father. What a precious gift they are.
Beauty can reveal grabs of what Heaven is like. I think about some of the things in this world that I love, and wonder what they will be like in Heaven. (There must be beautiful things in Heaven, surely?) For example, what would a perfect sunrise look like, one without pollution or traffic noise? How about a perfect beach, without jellyfish or sharks or sunburn? What about the flowers in Heaven – maybe they never wilt or die, maybe they grow without thorns, and maybe bees do not exist there.
I have never seen Heaven so I will wait in suspense until all is revealed. In the meantime, I imagine what our eternal home will hold and I am inspired by the beauty presently around me. The things that are loveliest of all to me – golden sunsets, snow-capped mountains, bush retreats and the warbling of magpies – remind me of Heaven that still awaits us.
My best response on this earth to the beauty that surrounds is to write about it. I do my best to transform what I see and hear into songs and narratives. My language often falls short in describing the experience; what do you call that place when you have been lingering in sheer breathless wonder for an hour, and you are no longer the person you once were? Perhaps in Heaven we will have new language and music to sufficiently describe this beauty and what it means to us.
I am grateful for the beauty He has poured into our lives. I pause, taking it in, and my heart aches for Home.