Retreat Tuesday: Finding Beauty

Beauty will save the world. (F. Dostoevsky)

A morning walk along the river. 

Beauty everywhere.

A noonday walk for Centering Prayer.
More beauty everywhere. 

My host improved the pathways in the woods that surround my friends’ home while I was off for my afternoon of play yesterday. Such kindness in that act, and now more beauty everywhere.

In Genesis 1, that early, early liturgical hymn of creation, the refrain of God’s response to what God created is often translated it was good. A closer understanding of the Hebrew is that it was beautiful.  It seems that finding beauty, and creating it where it is absent, is important to doing God’s work.  
I’ve been deeply moved by the bicoastal tragedies–fires in California and floods in West Virginia. I’ve held those companions in prayer, and the Scripture that I offer as God’s promise is from Isaiah:  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you

In the devastation after flame and water it is difficult to see beauty. However, in the work of the clearing out and cleaning up, the beauty becomes apparent in new ways. I know this to be true. 
After the downstairs of the Rectory was gutted, I took my nephew and brother to see what was left of my home. In the space that was once a living room, the walls and flooring and doors and cabinets had been removed. A cement floor and studs for walls remained.  The fading light of the day came through the tall windows. In the stillness and openness, my nephew remarked that the room felt holy. There was beauty in the work of the loving hands that had removed the flood’s devastation.  

Beauty everywhere.  And because beauty comes from God, it can save the world. 



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