On Beauty

If there’s anyone who’s a homebody in this world – it’s me. I haven’t always been one, but the pandemic, a touch of social anxiety, and, The Handmaid’s Tale have all certainly transformed me into one. But sometimes, I need some garlic bread in my belly so I need to run to the store, or I decide that the white walls of my home are too white for my eyes, or I see the sun over the mountain and remind myself that I should probably chase it – and then I get up.  Two feet on the ground, a little heave and a throwing on of contact lenses and I’m out the door. 

And the short little walk to the Uncle’s shop down the road, or the (always windy and rarely fun for me) beach – reminds me that I am alive, that I’m alive in others’ livelihoods, and that Jesus is alive in all things. The Uncle who smiles at me gently has eyes that look at me as graciously as His. The man who holds his dog underneath the bridge as it rains reminds me of a love that puts itself last. Lovers with their melty pizza and children’s bubblegum-ice-cream-mouths, the shared joy of happy bellies and sunny days – just like Jesus, his friends, and some grilled fish. A boy blasting music from his car, singing, as his face holding onto a nostalgia that only he knows. There is a thread joining all these things together – we are humans, experiencing, celebrating and creating – beauty. 

From my time in India, 2018. Photographer: Lucas Taborda.

Brian Zahnd (2010) writes: “How beautiful it would be if we would return to viewing salvation as a song we sing. The book of Revelation (from which George Frideric Handel found the lyrics for his Hallelujah chorus) doesn’t have any plans or formulas, but it has lots of songs. The task of the church is to creatively and faithfully sing the songs of the Lamb in the midst of a world founded upon the beastly principles of greed, decadence, and violence. What is needed is a beautiful song – not a pragmatic system, but a transcendent symphony. Why? Because God is more like a musician than a manager, more like a composer than a clerk keeping ledgers. The church is to sing the melody of Christ in the malls of meaninglessness and once again astonish the modern world with beauty.”

The decision to view the world through this light, through the beauty that cuts through it all, is revolutionary. It changes my homebody-staring-silently-into-space into noticing my roommates’ kind presence. It changes the view of cups of tea as just cups of tea, to the embracing of sweet gifts of rest to my weary mind. It changes my walking quickly past cold, meaningless corners to the noticing of the laughter that rings through them. Beauty is in all things and as soon as we see that, we can so clearly see Jesus in all things, even in places we foolishly thought Him not to be. Beauty binds our humanity, beauty cuts through sorrow, beauty saves the world. May you so clearly notice it, embrace it, look for it, sit in it and create it, today. 

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