Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beauty Draws us Out and Lifts us Up

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart”
-Ecclesiastes 3:11
Beauty invites us to step out of ourselves. Much of each day, our thoughts are centered on issues in our lives, solving problems, worrying about the future, stressing about this and that. In our fallen nature we are all prone to cave in on ourselves. On an ongoing basis, we need to be freed from such self-focus. We all need to get out of ourselves.
God pours out the grace needed for our deliverance from self-absorption. One key way that God gives us that grace is through beauty. When we see the splendor of a brilliant sunrise on our drive to work in the morning, we are invited to step out of our anxious thoughts of the day. We are welcomed to lay aside our all-too-often obsession regarding the frustrations awaiting us on our job.
In that glimpse of God’s glory, we are shown a bigger picture of reality than our daily grind: the Lord is in control of the universe, and he has jammed it with magnificence!
To behold this scene on the way to work is to step out of my little world and all its petty problems and anxieties. To hold on to the scene throughout the day is to allow my mind to be transformed so that it gains God’s perspective on life. The Lord is in control, he has filled the earth with beauty, and the life that he has given me is pure gift!
After drawing us out of ourselves, beauty draws us upward toward God. Whenever we see beauty, it lifts our hearts. Even if temporarily, we are able to let go of all that weighs on us and pulls us down. It lifts our minds from the mundane, and helps us see a much greater reality.
The great spiritual writer of the early sixth century, Pseudo-Dionysius, describes how God uses beauty and light as natural aids in lifting us up toward him. “Hence, any thinking person realizes that the appearances of beauty are signs of an invisible loveliness,” says Dionysius. “Material lights are images of the outpouring of an immaterial gift of light.”[1]
Beauty is something transcendent, and it draws us toward transcendence. Because all beauty is a reflection of the Creator, when we see the loveliness of creation, it draws us toward God. Ultimately, beauty lifts our spirits to the One who is Uncreated Beauty!
2017 © Glenn E. Myers
This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

[1] Celestial Hierarchy, 121C-D, in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, translated by Colm Luibheid, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1987), 146.

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