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. –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The awakening of spring feels like a rebirth of sorts. Something about the sound of geese overhead, the emerging jack-in-the-pulpit rising from black earth, and the pungent scent wafting from the once frozen creekbed stirs a sense of vitality in my soul. I sense this rebirth speaks of some greater longing within me – a longing for heaven, a longing for the day when all things are made new, a longing for the face-to-face embrace with the One who created me.
Throughout the most stress-filled seasons of my life, pondering beauty has been my greatest source of relief. When college classes weighed on me, I pulled poetry books from the shelves of the library and memorized poems about leaves no step had trodden black. When my teaching career was straining, I took walks in the bitter December afternoons – towering spruce trees ushering me into a canopy of protection. When pregnancy rendered me immovable, Mom pulled the old green reclining chair from the porch so I could watch the wrens flutter from their box.
In this season, I can think of lists of reasons to join Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in seeking what is beautiful. Here are four motivations to ponder beauty today:
Magnifying the beautiful magnifies God
In every moment, I have a choice. I can magnify my problems, or I can magnify God. The mouse pointer disappears on the computer, rendering my day’s plans inoperable. In this moment, I can magnify my frustrating problem, or I can magnify God. The kids are literally screaming at one another over who gets to load Lion King into our antiquated VCR. I can magnify the fact that they’ve now screamed at one another sixteen times in two hours, or I can magnify God by remembering how grateful I am to be a mother. The daily grind of my life is wearing me down. I can magnify all the reasons I’m disappointed with my life, or I can magnify the many blessings.
Magnifying God puts my problems in perspective
The benefit of magnifying God in my life is that keeping my eyes on him keeps my problems in perspective. The immovable mouse on my computer changed my plans for the day, but it’s not as big of a deal as it seems. The yelling kids are unnerving and frustrating, but this is part of learning to cooperate and relate with others. I’m glad they’re learning to navigate relational frustrations in a safe place. In the grand scheme of my life, many of my troubles are light and momentary. Even the heavy burdens will be used for God’s glory. Keeping my eyes on him reminds me to endure hardships with strength and courage.
We were created to crave beauty
Snow-capped peaks and waves crashing to sandy shores elicit responses of awe because we were created to crave beauty. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart . . .” We all long for the beauty of encountering God face-to-face. Until then, our hearts are set on fire with passion for him when we see the beautiful works of his hands. Encountering beauty through nature, the arts, architecture, and other people reinvents the awe we were designed to crave.
Gratitude lifts our eyes above ourselves. Thankfulness displaces negativity. Even the smallest flame dispels a room of darkness. We’re called to give thanks in everything. The more we count our blessings, the less we keep track of wrongs. Gratefulness and grumpiness simply can’t dwell in the same space.
Wherever life finds you today, may you embrace the joy of the journey, find something for which you can give thanks, and keep looking up. The geese are northern-bound.