"Beauty may be the most poweful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty transcends. Beauty draws us to God. As Simone Weil wrote, 'The beauty of the world is almost the only way by which we can allow God to penetrate us . . . Beauty captivates the senses in order to obtain permission to pass straight through to the soul . . . The soul's inclination to love beauty is the trap God most frequently uses in order to win it.' "
~John and Stasi Eldredge - Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul - pages 131-132.
"From the arable river lands to the south, the approach to Montefiore appears a sequence of relaxed hills. In the late spring, when the puckers of red poppy blossom are scattered against the green of the season, it can look like so much washing, like mounds of Persian silk and Florentine brocade lightly tossed in heaps. Each successive rise takes on a new color, indefinably more fervent, an aspect of distance and time stained by the shadows of clouds, or bleached when the sun takes a certain position."
"My eye traces the foothills already gained, considers the alphabet of light that spells its unreadable words on the surface of the river."
~Gregory Maguire - Mirror, Mirror: A Novel - page 1 & 2.
Sometimes I get tired. I feel dusty, cramped, shadowy. Life is good, and I am blessed, but sometimes the routine, the details, the demands weigh on me, like a blanket of dust that covers an antique cabinet. Sometimes day-to-day living is as though I were trusting a crust of bread and a glass of water to nourish my soul --- and don't get me wrong, a hungry and thirsty soul is thankful for bread and water --- but sometimes I hunger and thirst for more.
And there is more to be had.
Sometimes I feel guilty when I take a break from my normal routine --- paperwork, schoolwork, housework, emails, parenting --- but sometimes I need to stop and share a morning at the coffee shop with my daughter, or drive through the neighborhood to see the trees changing color. Sometimes I need to spend an hour with a really good book, and a cup of warm tea. Sometimes I need to listen to beautiful music and light candles, and do nothing but daydream. And you know what I learned today?
Beauty nourishes me.
It feeds me, like nothing else can.
Why is it that we focus so on usefulness, and forget how necessary beauty is. I'm not talking about physical beauty -- though there is something to be said for the beauty of a strong forearm on a man, or a square chin, or a perfectly rounded hip on a woman --- but beauty is so much more . . .
A glorious mountain reaching into the clouds, a perfectly formed flower, a multi-colored tree, the way sunlight plays on the currents of a river --- these things shout that I am loved, that the world is right. I am nourished by beauty in the form of a song like Lucia Micarelli's "She's Like the Swallow". I am nourished, too, by written words that paint a breathtaking picture or transport me to another place and time.
So I spent today nourishing myself with beauty. I read Gregory Maguire, I listened to Lucia Micarelli, I drove around looking at trees that seem to be on fire, and will too soon, burn out and stand black against the snow and the overcast sky.
A Xanga friend who takes absolutely stunning photographs recently posted that she has submitted a photo that will be featured in National Geographic. The link she shared provided me with an hour of beautiful photos to browse.
The demands of life still beckon, signal to me of their immediacy, their urgency, their importance. And they will still be there when I am ready to give them my attention, perhaps later today or tomorrow. But when I return to them, I will be stronger, cleaner, washed clean of the dust and grime of the daily, and satisfied by the nourishment that beauty has provided my soul.