July 30, 2019

The Gift of Beautiful Words in Troubled Times by Brenda Leyland



"In every heart there is a secret nerve that
answers to the vibrations of beauty."
CHRISTOPHER MORLEY


I have come to see, like Mr. Morley, that people everywhere, young or old, are born to recognize and appreciate beauty in the world around them. I shall never forget the day when, as a six-year-old on the school playground, I stood in mouth-gaping wonder to watch the season's first snowflakes tumble from a grey November sky. From that day, as I grew and the years passed, my love for all things beautiful only increased … whether it was found in a rainbow forming after a summer storm, watching a beloved face relax in sleep or hearing George Beverly Shea's voice singing I'd Rather Have Jesus. I also found pleasure in pretty dishes, teacups, lace curtains billowing on a summer day, robins warbling from tree tops, Monet's Water Lilies, and reading exquisitely written books with well-turned phrases and surprise endings that satisfied every nerve ending in my body.

And then, like Vincent Van Gogh, I began yearning for ways to share the beauty I experienced with those around me, and while the artist took up his brush to express what he saw, I took up my pen. I was happiest when I could write about living a beautiful life, describing the wondrous joys I discovered in God's world around me.

A person doesn't have to live long on this planet to recognize we live in an upside down world where beauty is often forgotten, hidden behind misery and meanness, tragedy and trauma. Some people say, well that's life, that's the reality. I used to ponder why that should carry more weight in being 'real' than beauty and kindness. Which is why I have probably never forgotten the line I read eons ago in one of the Emily novels by L.M. Montgomery. Mr. Carpenter, Emily's schoolteacher, entreated her not to heed her critics but to press forward and continue to write from that place of beauty she saw in her own mind. He told her, "Don't be led away by those howls of realism. Remember -- pine woods are just as real as pigsties and a darn sight pleasanter to be in."

The essence of these words became a guiding star for my writing. I decided then and there, since pine woods (and roses and kindness) were as real as pigpens, and much nicer, I would not let the ugly, mean stuff have the stronger voice in my own life. When I started writing, I kept Mr. Carpenter's advice in mind as I thought about what would become my themes and possible topics for exploring. I was delighted to learn that his sentiment also fit perfectly with those gracious words in Philippians: whatever is lovely and of good report, think (write) on these things.

After much soul searching, I came to recognize that, as writers, we each must find our own place from which to write. I began to see more and more that my heart pulsed with the desire to write about life's beautiful moments as a way to combat the hard, dark ones. We are told heaven is a beautiful place, and so I aspired to give readers their own glimpses of heaven's hope, joy and beauty for the times when life's issues press in or overwhelms. For goodness and kindness still prevails, and people still take joy in small moments like sharing cups of tea with friends and watching roses bloom and reading poetry. It helps balance things.

August marks the eleventh anniversary since I published my first post on It's A Beautiful Life. When I started the blog, I knew its theme and focus would be about encouraging readers to find ways to live life more beautifully, but over the past decade our world has changed a lot. Because of changes in technology, we now have the world's woes at our fingertips. I have asked myself on many occasions, especially recently, do I need to change the way I write? Should my writing begin to reflect the societal and cultural concerns many of us share, and should I write to address these troubling issues instead?

Recently I received a comment from a quiet reader of my blog posts. She wrote, "Since deleting my own blog last year and trying to spend less time online, I haven't been by as much as I have in the past, but today, I was just longing for a glimpse of a beautiful blog, and yours immediately came to mind. … Truly, your little home on the internet adds beauty and joy to my days."

And that, my friends, puts the thumb on the pulse of my reason for writing about beautiful things. Sometimes readers just need a moment of respite, something that feels normal in an abnormal time, something that buoys the spirits and provides a hint of beauty so that, heartened, they can return to the fray and carry on, at least for the moment.

I believe the words John O'Donohue, author of Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, wrote when he said, "To participate in beauty is to come into the presence of the Holy." Every time I search my heart and ask the Lord about it, I get the same settled peace to stay the course and continue writing beautiful life pieces. Because, in terrifying times we need beauty and beautiful words to keep us from giving up in despair. So I keep watching for glimpses of heaven in unexpected places. I keep delighting in the simple life pleasures God gives us every single day. And, I keep writing about them as little gifts for others.



A long-time InScribe member, Brenda Leyland writes from her home in Alberta, Canada. She has been a columnist and contributor in the FellowScript magazine. Inspired by beauty, Brenda takes great joy in blogging at It's A Beautiful Life and posting on Facebook. She also sees herself as a curator of memories and works away at various memoir projects.


22 comments:

  1. Brenda, I hope you never stop writing about a beautiful life. Your posts lift my spirits every time and I love to linger over your words.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brenda, an amazingly beautiful post. I have printed it to keep. The world is better because of you and your marvelous gift you so graciously share. Blessings to you, Sandra

    ReplyDelete
  3. An elegant essay on beauty, Brenda. Yours is the gift that keeps on giving!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for adding beauty in our world, Brenda! God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also wish to add my thanks for your faithfulness in writing & sharing such beautiful words.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is lovely, Brenda. I am glad that you have had a voice in Blogdom these 11 years and I hope that you continue for many more. Finding beauty is important and since that is your niche, I know that you bless many.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As always, beautifully written, evocative, 'pictures in words'.

    ReplyDelete
  8. God has given you a wonderful gift of beautiful words!
    Keep writing !!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Brenda, I am another who enjoys what you do! Focusing on beauty does not mean that darkness does not exist. It simply focuses our lens to see the good and to be grateful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Brenda, you have a way with words that helps us to see the beauty around us. I love beauty, too, we are kindreds in this way. Your words fill me up with their beauty and help me to keep looking and seeing beauty in the everyday things!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind and beautiful comments. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a wee note. I savour your words -- comments, for writers, are often the best gifts anyone can give.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am glad, Brenday, that you've been led by God “to stay the course and continue writing beautiful life pieces.” We live in, but are not required to dwell on the fact that we live in perilous times.

    I am glad, and I believe God is delighted with the fact that you “ , , , (watch for) glimpses of heaven in unexpected places” and that you “ . . . keep delighting in the simple life pleasures God give us every single day” and that you “ . . . keep writing about them as little gifts for others."

    Today I received and am thankful for your gifts. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you, Sharon! I am blessed by your kind remarks.

      Delete
  13. This is so lovely. I would never change the way I wrote if I could write as beautifully as you. You have a true gift, dear Brenda.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Another beautifully written post, Brenda. Congrats on the 11-year-old blogiversary!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beautiful and encouraging post--thank-you! I also am a John O'Donohue fan and the Beauty book is a favourite of mine.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello Brenda. Your blog (and your spirit) are indeed lights in the world. It is soooo much better to focus on what is right and beautiful than the dark and wretched. Every time I see a blog post by you, I think, "Oh goodie! A post from Brenda." You never ever cease to make me smile and feel happy to be alive. Thank you, Brenda. I loved your piece on this site, too. It is so you! Sincerely, Susan

    ReplyDelete
  17. Simply beautiful! And happy anniversary on blogging!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just finished reading the wonderful comments and tributes to you and how you focused so well on the beauty all around us. Thank you for your gift to us!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. You always give me hope and joy...

    ReplyDelete
  20. I've enjoyed this, dear Brenda, and marked for rereading on the days when the pigsties look set to win.
    Amalia
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is just beautiful Brenda. Yes, we need beauty more than ever. I agree so much with the advice given Emily, and the exhortation in Philippians. We don't have to look for ugliness; it seems to find us. Actually, beauty will too as long as we keep an open eye. Your blog helps us to do that. xo Deborah

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.