Today I am starting an open-ended blog series celebrating beauty.
There are three reasons for this.
1) At the recent Bible Study Intensive here at the office, one of the most difficult assignments for the students was to identify extreme beauty in certain Biblical stories.
I am baffled by why that is so hard, but I don’t need to know the cause. We have a problem, so I shall seek to ameliorate the situation.
2) The very first thing God did with the newly created sin-free human was to immerse him in a course on beauty. How long did it take for God to individually bring and showcase each of the different birds, animals and bugs?
Either God froze time or it took a few years for this process.
Regardless, I find it hugely significant that the foundational resource that Adam needed to live successfully was to be deeply marinated in beauty.
If it was a critical resource for him, surely we fallen creatures could benefit from it as well.
3) We are pursued by ugliness.
The world we live in is thousands of years downstream from the Garden of Eden and the levels of brokenness are expanding exponentially. Surely it would do us well to offset some of the ugliness of our world with a conscious exposure to beauty.
I have no idea what the internal impact will be for the Tribe, but I am sure it will be positive.
There are very few cases where beauty is uniform and framed as such. And in most cases like that, it is staged and a bit artificial – like a beauty pageant.
My specialty is to find that spot of beauty in the commonplace, or even in the ugly. I see it, register it as beauty, and savor the memory of it.
I don’t know how I ended up with this skill being so finely honed. Therefore, I am not sure how to help others learn it. For now, the best I can do is to allow you to walk with me through the vagaries of life and look over my shoulder as I see and savor beauty.
Maybe my skill is easily transferable.
Copyright October 2018 by Arthur Burk
One of my issues has been accepting ugliness as normal. It was as if I was could not have good things I had to learn to live with bad things. It surprised me a few days ago to read that no one could ever thrive in certain circumstances. Yet for years I had beaten myself up for struggling in such circumstances. The fact I found life hard meant there was something wrong with me and my faith walk. A judgement backed up by a pastor being concerned that I was not an overcomer. In part because my inability to cope reflected badly on him and the church. Today if I saw someone in such circumstances I would say get out of there. Some of us are so marinated in ugly that beauty is beyond our comprehension. God has been working on untwisting my expectations still some bends but definitely improved. Some are so blinded by ugly that they cannot see beauty. Think of the person holds a grudge against others for an act of kindness for decades. They simply cannot believe that person could be trying to be kind to them. Others listen to their story and cannot see anything ugly in it. Seeing beauty for some requires healing and releasing from captivity.
I appreciate your endeavor to see and savor. My problem is I cannot see and I suffer. It's fleeting and I long to get to that sound, or color, or softly forested glen. All around me is pollution, obesity, despair and addiction. Then I look at me and see crepe-aged skin and sallow places where there used to be light. Falling mounds of weakness and the tragedy of all that I used to hope would be but instead its a mass of pale exiting stage left. Beauty is hard to bear. In Christ there is radiance that is lasting. I look away from all that will distract to the Author and finisher of our faith. That is all. Him. The true beauty, and I am awed.
Replied by : Arthur Burk
I love this subject… beauty. It’s intrinsic, infused in God-breathed Everything. And every facet of beauty breathes back to Him, like a circle of Life, for that's what beauty is, and true Life is beauty-filled, sometimes categorical but sometimes waiting to be found. It’s a natural and a favorite, and I so appreciate when beauty is acknowledged in a world that often doesn’t even seem to notice, much less celebrate it. So a focused blog series on it, and shared experience and celebration, is brilliant and awesome, wise and loving, fun yet deeply profound, and authenticating our Lord’s worth-ship (i.e, true worship). I LOVE IT. This will be thoroughly enjoyable. And I also enjoy the questions in the box on the bottom of this page. That is a thought-provoking “blog” in itself. I’m SO in on this. Thank you.
About a year ago, the Lord told me to start buying flowers whenever I shopped at my favorite food store. I could buy 3 large bunches of flowers for $10. I loved mixing up colors and textures and so enjoyed the process of arranging them. Every time I walked through my living room I paused and savored the beauty of this simple extravagance that I had previously thought I didn’t really deserve. It took Him telling me that I needed to have tangible beauty in my life. Not everyone likes flowers. Fine. I also collect rocks and shells and whatever bit of not currently alive nature, that catches my eye. Part of the process is actually “seeing” the things that we so easily pass by without talking time to look.
I am greatful to be in the process of savoring beauty thru circumstances of life,even thru the trials and ugly. Thankyou SLG because of the teaching to take looks back at our lives and my life and where God,Jesus and the Holy Spirit revealed themselves ,in beauty even thru trial. Because of learning the art of gratefulness and being in the process of savoring beauty in the ugly....my life is looking more whole and complete!
Yes, Yes, Yes! So happy you are doing this. The Lord definitely has made it known to me, especially in the last decade or so, how important Beauty is to Him and how very important it is for us to be immersed in it. This year there was also a reminder to me again of Beauty, as I must have slipped in my "knowing" of how important this was to the Lord and therefore to me! Thanks for this!
Beauty for me often involves a sound. A lovely sunset, for instance, is infinitely better with birds. The vastness of the ocean cannot touch me unless I am hearing the waves roll in. I love the sound of crickets in the evening, and one of the pleasures I miss deeply where I live right now is the sound of peeper frogs in the spring. Sound is also some of the deepest ugliness for me. When the wind howls around the windows, I am unable to sleep. When there is banging I go very quickly downhill into mildly grumpy at best.
I'm seriously looking forward to this opportunity. Expanding my own understanding of beauty to better observe and absorb the Wonders of God can only enrich my life and spill over to others around me. Bring it Arthur! The most beautiful thing I have seen in my life.....hmmmmm....is it too cliche to say that to me it is any mother that draws in an abandoned newborn to nurture as her own. Be it human or animal, this is so lovely to me.
I am in a small state of shock. Since my big breakthrough recently I’ve been able to access my secret place with the Lord. Instead of answering my (many) questions or showing me what I need to do now or anything else, He has been immersing me in colors, flowers, sunrises and sunsets and the depth of the beauty has hit me in every area of my senses. It’s been astonishing. And now your blog shows up! I’m not used to this yet (being on the same page with others in the Spirit) but I like it! Thank you for the powerful confirmation of what God is doing in me. Blessings, Julie
I love this. I do find this a desperate need. And how nice that you posted it today, Oct. 31, when there's a fair bit of ugliness in all the stores & whatnot. Immediately my heart went to Isaiah 25 & 26 & 35, and to the new heavens & earth passages in Revelation 21 & 22. Beauty that turns me inside out. Thanks for doing this!