Despite the constant palette of fads that brush their way into our culture, I always love a nice coat of Cherry Crush on my toes. It’s fun when a new shade tantalizes us and we dip our feet in together to celebrate whatever new brand the piper brings to town, but we tend to smudge each others’ toes, working our way back to our favorite places in the composition, however ordinary they might look. I’m a hue, my neighbor is a shade but thankfully, there’s the holy One one that supports the corners of us, offering us a better way to join together. We may paint some fences along our edges to slow our bleed of colors, but that piper likes to come in with his battle sword, and make us forget our vital corners. His true intentions may be cleverly polished like some kind of bling, but if we’re careful not to foul our colors with it, and keep that holy One as our cornerstone, we can make this place one beautiful work of art.
What would you think of as beautiful in your last season of this life?
I may take that question to work, where people go to live during this great transition. I learn a lot there, where most conversations revolve around family: theirs, mine, and whoever else has one.
Children are incontestably beautiful. They celebrate life in so many colors and
expressions, it’s hard not to look at them as canvases of the most divine kind of art. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to raise them—we don’t want to unintentionally shape a Monet into a Picasso if that’s not who they are meant to be.
Speaking of art—if my “ship” ever makes it through all the cactus and dust devils, bringing treasures beyond my expectations—I hope it’s full of art to fill my walls with. I can’t get enough—Impressionism, Renaissance art, Contemporary…maybe even an art studio of my own, because to me, life without art means a life without beauty.
At the retirement resort, there used to be a group of ladies who, at the first sign of a fire truck, would gather in one of the lobbies to watch the firemen walk by (unfortunately, they were usually accompanied by an ambulance). Young and fit people will always have an audience.
But really, when we reach that phase where our human side starts to peel away from the eternal—what will we remember as truly beautiful?
My daughter is seven, and in public school. She’s reached that point where she’s gaining that early foundation of experience. She’s a butterfly—sweet and quiet (at school), and full of color (strong-willed monkey at home). Her teachers would like to see her speak up more in class, speak louder—find her confidence. We do our best to build her up—we even signed her up for ballet where she can express her creative side within a group.
But a person has to uncover their light on their own accord.
When a boy in her class kept coming in without lunch, and worried about his parents “illnesses”, she found her voice, taking him to the lunchroom supervisors and asking if they would give him a free meal. For those of you who have never been shy this may seem like plain old common sense, but all those former and practicing wallflowers will recognize what a leap of faith this was for someone afraid to raise her hand.
This, to me, is beauty at its brightest. It’s reaching beyond our own comforts, switching on that stubborn lamp, and letting the eternal side shine through the human side.
King David, in his early years as a shepherd boy, was described as beautiful.
“So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 1 Samuel 16:12 (emphasis mine)
I’m sure he was made “good-looking” for a reason, but is that what made him “the one”?
When I look at Michelangelo’s David, I see the story of him—the slingshot, the strength of body and spirit—the shepherd boy who stepped forward to save his people.
The statue will eventually crumble, but the part of him that made him a legend came from the Divine.
What do you think is eternally beautiful? Tell us in the comments.
There is a field of beautiful weeds next to my daughter’s school. I pull in line alongside it every day with the other parents, creeping along for my turn to pick up my child. The weeds are quite tall now, catching every breeze and butterfly that comes its way. There is the occasional set of tire tracks mushed into the field from a driver who couldn’t wait for the line to move. The school has tried to purchase it in hopes to expand, but that rectangle of dirt and brush is far too pricey.
The land is surrounded on one side by old trees, firmly rooted into the ground in the yards of neighbors. They tower above the weeds, holding court in their superior standing of shade-givers.
But when the light hits the weeds just right, you can see gold. While the sun outlines the trees like halos of honey, the weeds are given the full force of the light, casting a breathtaking beauty upon them. They are not weeds in this moment, but the light so many artists try to capture in their paintings. When I finally understood the value of a weed, it changed my thinking forever.
Although not everyone waits around to witness their transformation.
As I approach my 20th year high school reunion, I think about the weeds and wonder how many of us will walk in feeling like we’re pulling a cart-ful of them, and how many will feel like the trees that look down on them. Are my adornments as beautiful—do my shoulders reach as high as the others?
Does the weight of my cart outweigh those of the others?
Despite the joy of seeing old friends, successes will be measured on this day. Classmates will walk in with lists: the accomplishments, and the list that we probably won’t talk about –the failed relationships, losses of all kinds, mistakes.
But the light shines just as bright on our carts of weeds. They are what make us work harder, gain wisdom, and grow beautifully. God didn’t come for the best of the best after all.
I‘m here inviting outsiders, not insiders – an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:32 The Message
Those of us in the weed fields become part of God’s masterpiece—too unworthy in the eyes of those who miss the light—too valuable for the wallets of the insiders.