Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Discipline of Beauty

We must hunger after the Beautiful and good.
~ George Eliot

My friend, Sarah, has the above quotation emblazoned across her blog. As I am want to ponder Beauty often, it is no surprise that it is the centre of my current thoughts.

Shall I be bold? Yes. I will assert that Beauty is a tutor, leading us to think higher thoughts. She compels us to ponder that which is above, beyond, outside of our selves. When Scripture counsels us to 'worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness' what is it saying? I am persuaded that the Psalmist believes Beauty is a discipline that leads us to Holiness. In fact, Beauty is the Discipler whose being delights her students, imbuing them with God's Holiness. (Alluding to Sir Philip Sidney's idea that poetry teaches [truth] by delighting.)

Sometimes it is the Beauty of nature that raises our thoughts: a snow capped mountain range, a blazing sunset, the seaside cry of gulls, savoury woodsmoke on a crisp afternoon, or the sight and scent of rich earth, freshly ploughed. Nature's Beauty kindles our inner being, imparting to us the depth and riches of God's own Beauty and creativity.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Various facets of God are glimpsed by other Beauties. A piece of music can transport our souls to the very courts of Heaven. Evensong in the gloaming settles our hearts and minds. Birdsong commences the morning with verve. A scrap of writing, or a whole book, moves our very selves closer to God. Story and truth lift us out of ourselves, making us more than we were. A journey to a new country awakens our imaginations. Returning to a belovéd place rekindles joy-filled memories.

Recently I have come to delight in one particular Beauty. Rarely did I consider it when making mental lists of Beautiful things. It is the most exquisite of all Beauties, and extremely precious. It is what I have termed the Beautiful Soul. Such Beautiful Souls serve God faithfully without announcing themselves. They are eager beings. They long for more of God. They do not rush stillness and Beauty. They worship God with a depth that only sorrow and loss can cultivate. Their passions stem from an eagerness for God. The things that break their hearts are due to the Fall of man. They nourish their inner self, without neglecting the world of souls (in various states) around them. They are attended by an air of grace and humility.

Just writing about these Beautiful Souls brings joy to my heart. I have been extremely privileged to not only meet some of these persons, but they are some of my closest friends.

Blesséd, blesséd, blesséd be He!

~ Johanna

If you seek Beauty and goodness, read Sarah's blog: Thoroughly Alive. You will see that your soul is impoverished, but it shall be enriched by her thoughts, both fun and reflective.

Reading some of Sarah's
reflections upon Beauty, painted in a tranquil, watercolour wash, my own musings soared up to meet the stars dappling the heavens - the above post is the result.