Saturday, 14 October 2017

Beauty Quest

This week, I’ve been on a beauty quest.

I ran out of room in last week’s blog  when I asked, “Is there an antidote to despair?” I talked about hope, faith, awe, action and community, but I didn’t mention Beauty. Beauty, I believe, can also be an antidote to despair.

And so this week, I decided to look for beauty wherever I went. I was encouraged in my quest by the words of Goethe: “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

There’s a sense of the beautiful implanted in the human soul! That’s a fine thought, and I think it is true. When I see something beautiful, I feel uplifted, and being uplifted is an antidote to despair.

Finding something beautiful in nature, when I take my walks, is not difficult. Everywhere I turn I see beauty: lime green leaves with sun shining through them;

 a tiny bird flitting through the underbrush; lacy mushroom caps perched on ivory pedestals.

And finding beauty in children isn’t hard, either. At our Thanksgiving feast this week, I watched two-year-old Grace seated between her two adoring grandfathers; they were passing tickles to each other and laughing uproariously. Grace took turns cuddling with one, and then the other, and there was no disguising the great joy she took in knowing she was greatly loved. Delightful and beautiful on many different levels. 

I picked a bouquet of the last flowers in our garden: beautiful!

I stayed up late reading an enthralling novel that ended with hopefulness: there’s beauty in words, too.

A group of homeless folks often gather in front of or inside the library in our town. I watched one bedraggled man limping across the street towards the group, and another man stood up and held out his arms. The welcoming embrace was long and warm. I realized that there is beauty in community and welcome and caring, no matter what it looks like to my middle-class eyes at first glance. And there’s beauty in growing a little bit in my awareness of that. Growth is beautiful.

I went to a concert – loved listening to the music, which transported me to other places in my imagination. It was a beautiful feeling.

Then I came across this...well, beautiful...quote, written by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and a mystic. One day, while standing in a crowd at a busy street corner, he unexpectedly had an inner vision about the people around him:

“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts ... the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. ... [The glory of God] is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.” (From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)

There’s a lot there to think about.  I am beautiful. You are beautiful. WE are beautiful, each one of us.

If we believe it, and treat everyone we meet as a beautiful point of light, immeasurably valuable, wouldn’t that banish despair?


  1. Wow a blue mushroom? And a big black 🌻. 🙃

  2. finally catching up on your recent blogs. love this one. Just reading Kate hennessy's biography of her grandmother Dorothy Day, whose favorite saying was " the world will be saved by beauty."( also the book's sub title." Denise N.