March 2021 Featured Article
Stories to Celebrate Beauty
One wintry day, I jogged along a local trail. Autumn’s brilliance had come and gone, leaving behind stripped trees and steel-hued skies. Not the loveliest time of year, nor my favorite season. As I ran, my thoughts drifted toward an unlovely gray to match my surroundings. Until I rounded a bend and was confronted with brilliance: a vibrant holly bush twining up an otherwise colorless birch. The sight stopped me mid-stride.
My breath slowed and cold seeped into my stilled limbs, but I didn’t care. I was too busy admiring the holly bush’s prettiness, rendered lovelier still by its very unexpectedness. And it dawned on me that this offered a picture of the message I want my stories to convey. I want to notice beauty in the midst of bleakness—and celebrate it.
Our world is broken and will remain so until Jesus comes again. Every day, in every place, we encounter the world’s wounds: estrangement, disappointment, loneliness, injustice, poverty. The darkness is insidious and inescapable. Like the gray days of a Northwest winter.
But in the midst of it…beauty! And in beauty, God Himself revealed. When we feast on beauty, we feast on Him. It is a form of worship, asking not for help or a solution (though of course He always welcomes pleas for these). We are simply enjoying Him, satisfied with Him alone.
As believers in Jesus, the hope of heaven empowers us to live well in this broken world that is passing away. Beauty on earth provides peepholes into heaven. Celebrating beauty is one way to fix our eyes on Jesus. In doing so, we drive away darkness, allowing us to not only endure but to triumph in the midst of brokenness.
Do you begin to see why I desire not simply to see beauty, but to celebrate it?
And why I read and write stories that do the same.
It can be a great temptation to deny ourselves these small celebrations of beauty, of joy, and gratitude, when we know that others around us are hurting. But the reality is that denying ourselves joy does nothing to help anyone else. Instead, when we allow moments of beauty to soak into the deepest crevices of our souls, it fills us up so that we may overflow it onto others.
Jesus never meant for us to give or act or serve from a position of impoverishment, but abundance. Feasting on beauty is one powerful way to fill ourselves because it fills us with God Himself. Which places us in a position to overflow that goodness onto others. To serve out justice as a people with plentiful resources helping those without.
We have opportunity to see beauty everywhere, needing only eyes that recognize the grace notes God writes into our lives. Like being surprised by a pop of color on an otherwise gray winter’s day.