I want to share something sent to me via e-mail. But first, I want to share a little something else...
I was visiting friends who had recently purchased a new Century home in the country. The previous owners had created a gorgeous and elaborate English Garden in their back yard. I am still of the conviction that the garden would make an ideal spot for weddings.
The precious family now residing in the home are all hard workers and believe strongly in sustainable living. As I regarded their garden in the company of the eldest daughter, she remarked that yes, it was beautiful, but not really of any value. At this statement, I gently, but passionately stated that this thinking was mistaken thinking.
While I believe there is no plant on earth that cannot be used medicinally or nutritionally, I also believe that the the One Who Created all things did so out of His joy of creating and out of His delight in bringing His created delight.
This is why my friend's garden is a treasure. This is why my husband and I plant new, flowering plants year after year. Why we grow a garden. Why we feed the birds and take joy in watching the antics of the squirrels that raid the feeders and baby bunnies that we know will partake of part of our garden's fruit. (They prefer the clover growing so freely among our grass, which is why we'll probably never try to cultivate the totally perfect lawn.) It is the reason we spend hours cleaning and caring for a small pond that houses tadpoles and various small fish. Why we mourn when the Great Blue Heron visits there unexpectedly for breakfast. It is the reason we allow finches to build nests in our hanging ferns. Why we wait expectantly for the baby robins to hatch and eventually leave the nest they repeatedly use in the Jasmine right beside our front door. Why we open the bedroom window a crack in the spring to listen to the night sounds of singing frogs and chorusing crickets.
Beauty is the reason. The beauty of life. Of things living. Of God's Creation. We relax in His beauty, knowing that we could save money and certainly time, by not 'indulging'. But somehow, I feel in my heart, that God is happy about our happiness with His World.
Did you know that it has been proven that the color green is calming? It is. And isn't it amazing how much green God put into the world? Like He knew, (of course He did), that we would need green. But he also inserted scads of beauty into His world and without scientific research, I'm pretty sure that someone could prove, scientifically even, that mankind needs beauty. Not to merely exist, but to thrive within our existing.
Jesus said He came to give life. But He didn't stop there...He continued by saying that it was His desire to give life abundantly. With the multitude of problems every human faces every day, we forget about the ok-ness of living in abundance.
And we don't have to have yards, gardens, hanging plants and bird feeders to enjoy His abundance...but if we want them, I believe with all within me that it's ok. There are boundaries, of course...we need to be sure we aren't feeding the birds if we're not feeding our children, for instance. But to live with guilt over loving God's Creation...that sort of thinking comes from the enemy of our spirits.
Perhaps you can understand, then, how happy I was to find the following in my e-mail:
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. (Desire , 191-92)