July 21, 2019

Seeking Beauty .... by Jocelyn Faire


I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.  Anne Frank



Often when asked to give a self-descriptor, I have listed myself as a seeker of beauty …

I join David in Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple

Simone Weil has said that two things that pierce the soul are beauty and suffering. When I ponder and experience these two, I know that both draw my soul to God; and I know beyond a doubt that the beauty in my life is what has kept me afloat many a time. While beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, it is also the universal gift created by God to nudge us into relation with Him and dependence on Him. To clarify when I speak of beauty I mean that essence which takes your breath away, the things that move our souls. Suffering also draws us to Him, but in a much more painful way. Suffering feels inflicted more than gifted.



Beauty in nature is especially captivating. When I find a tiny flower in a forlorn spot, wildflowers in Australia, or watch the sunset over the oceans deep, a canola field in bloom next to blue flax in Manitoba; when I kayak a clear lake, or sit in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, or spot the tiny blossom that sprouts from pavement cracks, my heart is aware that this is reminder of the hand of God in all places. 

In The Journey of Desire, John Eldredge nails it on the head for me ... he tells the story of a woman sitting in his office for counsel, years after a rape. She depicts the devastation which has lingered .... he notices an embroidered flower on her shirt; at its mention she speaks of beauty. It has been the only thing that has helped her cope in life. Sometimes she had to sit in the presence of beauty to allow her breath to continue. In proportion to the grief, I have needed the solace of beauty in my journey to life again.


Some days when the sun shines brightly I can wonder how could it ever have been so dark? Then I meet up with someone else who has lost a child, and I know that deep pain alongside them, I sense that looming black hole. These encounters remind me of the verses in 2 Cor 1, of sharing comfort for people in hard times, as God has done for me. My friend Dorothy tells me that my frequent reference to beauty in ordinary places has had her eyes open wide to it as well. I want to encourage others and myself to sense God's presence in all situations; His beauty is healing.

Finding flowers in remote spots is my evidence of God's ubiquitous grace. I wonder who will ever see them? Then I ask ... did you place this here just for me? Was that rainbow a reminder for me at the right time? At times the answer seems yes it was for me-it certainly was what I needed. At the same time I am aware that these events of beauty happen all around us. Beauty is heaven and earth's creative way of declaring the glory of the Lord.
 


Lord keep the eyes of my heart open ...
If I could put beauty to paper, images to word
paint to canvas, music to rhythm ...
If I could snap the right photo,
Hold a hand in time, seize the waterfall,
Even the dandelion pulled out as a weed
holds more beauty than words can tell
Tree of Life, Beauty of Love ...
Lord, I am left speechless, but not without beauty.


Searching through my photos for this post reminded me that God has continually surrounded me with His beauty, with His presence because it is found everywhere, in all countries, all climates. Flowers blossom both in the garbage heap and on spectacular coastlines.

Let me include three lines from my poem:

What are you looking for?
I'm looking for me, I am looking for You
I'm looking amidst beauty, because that is where I want to be found.



5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this 'beautiful' post which so poignantly reminds of to embrace the beauty around us...

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    1. And I continue to be amazed at the abundance of "ordinary" beauty. We do have a creative God.

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  2. Hi Jocelyn. I love your message. This line warmed my soul, "To clarify when I speak of beauty I mean that essence which takes your breath away, the things that move our souls." As a former chaplain this line resonates deep within me. I came alongside suffering many times yet, beauty often drew near as well. Your words give me comfort. Please keep writing. :)

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  3. Thank-you for your encouragement. As you will have experienced as a chaplain supporting those in suffering, you walk on holy ground, and that is also beautiful.

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  4. Thanks, Jocelyn, for writing another blog that pierces my soul and attunes me to beauty and suffering that is around us and in our lives. The tears brim on my lower eyelids as I “listen" to what you’re saying.

    I welcome tears, because it means I’m experiencing something that has meaning to me. I remember tears coming unbidden when I’d be reading stories to children at school. Early in the year, I’d explain to my young students that I can be moved to tears by sadness, joy and beauty and that is was okay to let those tears fall. One of them would get me a tissue and we’d carry on with our reading. Our own children were used to this. They’d tell me about a good movie and advise me to view “the ten-hanky” shows.

    Thanks. Jocelyn, for moving me to mini-tears.

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