FAITH column July 3, 2016
Life can be beautiful, but at different times, in different contexts and for different reasons, reality can seem ugly. Profound pain ensuing from unemployment and homelessness et al often perverts pleasure producing a trauma trap where beauty is meaningless. This demands a dictum of faith to rediscover the magic of beauty that envelops us as inspiration for a more significant reality of attachment. A God may have ordained all things beautiful as stated in Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in his time…’ but it behoves us as humans to take the time to appreciate a world of beauty beyond religious philosophies. It may be a bunch of fresh flowers on a supermarket shelf, the delicately lined leaves of trees in our streets or a smile on the face of a passer-by as he/she walks towards us along the pavement.
Money is not part of its intrinsic benefits to our soul; irrelevant when we stop to admire the innovative artistry of a designer dress we can’t afford or a painting that our budget can’t even contemplate. Inspired by beauty itself with its secret imaginings can enrich our psyche and fade ugliness into a blind facade. Reflecting sensitively on beauty need not imply a manic indulgence in material excess, but is a way of seeing and feeling that sublimates more mundane matters extant in experience.
Beauty is not just about rapture in the majesty of natural landscapes; indeed, nature can ravage the earth so destructively, but it implores us personally to develop an innate sense of kindness, compassion and empathy towards self and others to mitigate complex confusions. Basking in beauty also encompasses a walk on the wild side along a beach in winter or a bathe in warm waters on a sunny day. Being blind to beauty and/or oblivious to its pervasive power is to sacrifice the spiritual sanctuary it offers.
Listening to birds sing, hearing the rustle of leaves and feeling lush grass beneath our feet can balance and enhance our lives, ensuring greater equanimity than the wondrous wizardry of technology and pharmaceutical panaceas.
As children revel in playing in parks, we must maintain a childlike enjoyment of the peace of beauty that decorates our lives if we only jettison our phones and screens. In his poem, “Ode To A Grecian Urn” John Keats wrote in the 19th century that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,” but however one beholds it, the truth about beauty is it can create its own serene faith.