Surprised by Beauty

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It was silent and peaceful: the sort of silence that is pensive and thoughtful. Driving along, an instrumental, orchestral work had come on the radio. It captivated both my husband and I, rendering us both mute in appreciation of its loveliness. Unique, modern, and innovative without being strange or jarring, it was incredibly beautiful and utterly interesting. We both listened with rapt attention through its entirety, savoring each note and harmony. Even after it ended, we didn’t think to speak for a considerable period. When we did, the words seemed unnecessary. We had both felt and experienced the beauty together; we had been moved.

As in this experience, God often gets our attention through extraordinarily beautiful ordinary things. God communicates with us through His creation, sometimes directly through nature and His creatures and other times indirectly through music or art or other human endeavors. Beauty is all around us; we just have to keep our eyes open to appreciate it fully.

Beauty is just one of the many ways that He expresses His superabundant love to us. It is one among countless gifts. It is good and wonderful in and of itself. To experience beauty is to catch a glimpse of God Himself.

So how do we enhance our perception of God through the beauty with which He imbues creation? Here are some questions to ponder.

Am I attentive and receptive to loveliness? Do I appreciate and admire truly beautiful things?

Do I cultivate a sense of childlike wonder and awe in myself? Do I embrace joy?

Do I allow for silence and quiet? Do I unplug on a regular basis? Do I pause to drink in beautiful moments?

Do I keep my life centered on God? Do I seek Him with my entire being? Do I actively form my conscience to distinguish that which is really good, true, and beautiful?