reconnecting with beauty

One of my favorite books of all time is C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. A tiny volume of 100 or so pages, it explores the concept of morality in a simple but thought-provoking way. Lewis begins by distinguishing two philosophies: one that describes beauty as a subjective, human feeling, and another that defines beauty as an inherent quality that can be observed by humans but is not dependent us. That is to say, whether an ancient, mossy tree in a forest is still pretty if no one is around to see it, or whether a person is beautiful regardless of what people think of him or her.
​Just go read it. You’ll think it’s great or you’ll think I’m crazy. But back to the point…

Christian belief is based on the principle that God creates what is beautiful and good. And as God’s creation, we long for beauty. We seek it out to the point that we hop on 15-hour flights, we climb mountains till our calves burn and our knees tremble–just to grasp it for a little while. While God calls His creation “very good” in Genesis, we look around us and agree, yes, it is very, very good! Celebrating beauty is in our DNA.

Because beauty is determined by God rather than humans, we sometimes neglect to see all that is out there. It is easy to recognize the beauty in a sunset. It is harder to see beauty when it’s the middle of winter, you’re fighting a cold, and you can’t remember the last time you saw green grass. That’s about how I feel today, stuck in bed with only a bottle of Nyquil to comfort me, while the world outside becomes an eternal winter. (Okay, it’s not that bad. But you get the idea.)

Today’s devotional is about waking up so we can reconnect with beauty, even during the more uninspired seasons of life. Take a few moments to read, re-read, and meditate on the following verses.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.
 Which of all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
 In his hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind.”
                                      
Job 11:7-10

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

                                      Psalm 139:13-15

Our Creator has given us intricate bodies, air in our lungs, and a world to explore. Now let’s consider some ways to acknowledge His artistry more each day.

Get Outside
Beauty in nature is the easiest for most of us to recognize and thank God for. This week, make a point to walk somewhere when you would normally drive. You’ll save gas while giving God an opportunity to show you something new. I was recently walking home from yoga in the snow, feeling my sweat slowly freeze to my clothing (gross, right?), when I heard singing coming from the church near my house. While I was trying to guess what language it was, I noticed a wall of giant icicles along the building’s side, lit up by the stained glass windows. It was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard, and I would have missed out if I just sped by in my car!

Thank God for Your Body
Our culture talks a lot these days about embracing your true self and the body God gave you. I think that’s great! Let’s go deeper, though. When you glance in the mirror and think dang, I look good today, take a moment to thank God for giving you your favorite features, whether that’s your eyes, smile, or…other things. 😉

Affirm Others
When we give genuine compliments to one another, we’re not only training ourselves to see beauty in others, but helping others see what is good and beautiful in themselves. It can be scary to “put yourself out there,” especially if you don’t know the person well. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you courage. Many of us fail to recognize our own inner and outer beauty, which is why God uses us to remind each other. 🙂

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