Musing 3.26.2021

Lately I have felt flat, uninspired, and weary. It could be the winding down toward retirement. Or the dragging on of the pandemic. Or the endless, repetitive cable cycle. Or the denomination’s difficulty in holding a global meeting. My fatigue was sliding into self-righteousness – even cynicism. I couldn’t even get interested in March Madness.

Thursday morning Bill Meadows, Gary Miller, and I met with Wendy Joliet of Studio Arts and Glass. Her company will begin work on the stained glass in the sanctuary after Easter. She came to coordinate its work with the tuckpointing contractor, and to organize the project. The four of us walked through the building examining the rest of our stained glass to determine the need for additional work.

While Wendy took measurements of the Memorial window, my eye drifted from her tape measure to the face of the angel near it. The angel and I locked eyes. I was stunned and gasped. It took my breath away. I felt like I had never seen it before. The blues, red, and greens popped. They vibrated. The angel seemed alive. It certainly brought me to life. Its beauty brought me to life. It was as if our spirits connected. I was no longer flat and weary. What started out as a practical meeting led me to an awareness of the beauty right in front of me.

It is not easy to find a theology of beauty. It doesn’t seem important when compared to salvation, justification, atonement, forgiveness, justice. Maybe, when God pronounced creation “good,” God implied creation is beautiful. While not much is written on beauty and religion, Joan Chittister has written a beautiful essay on beauty in Illuminated Life.

What may be most missing in this highly technological world of ours is beauty…An encounter with the beautiful lifts our eyes beyond the commonplace and gives us a reason for going on, for ranging beyond the mundane, for endeavoring ourselves always to become more than we are. In the midst of struggle, in the depths of darkness, in the throes of ugliness, beauty brings with it a realization that the best in life is, whatever the cost, really possible….To have seen a bit of the Beauty out of which beauty comes is a deeply spiritual experience. It shouts to us always, “More. There is yet more.”… We must remove the clutter from our lives, surround ourselves with beauty, and consciously, relentlessly, persistently, give it away until the tiny world for which we ourselves are responsible begins to reflect the raw beauty that is God.

The beauty of the angel in the window connected my spirit with God’s spirit. It told me that there was more to my life than me. I talk with pride about all the ministries King Avenue offers. I don’t recall my ever mentioning our ministry of beauty. I had taken it for granted. I need to be reminded of it. We all need to be reminded of it. God uses it to give us life.

The world doesn’t lack for wonder, just a sense of wonder. The world doesn’t lack for beauty, just eyes to recognize it. Where will you be surprised by beauty today?

Hope you are safe and well.