Monday, January 17, 2011

Beauty Around Us

I've been thinking a lot about beauty lately. About creating beauty, about investing in beauty, about carving out a beautiful life. In this crazy, fast-paced, over-booked world, sometimes I forget that beauty matters. I forget that life isn't really just about checklists on a page or statistics or balance sheets or numbers or deadlines.

But how do I remind myself to create beauty when all I really need to do is type out one more page of double-spaced characters that no one will really ever read again?

How do I invest in beauty when the more immediate gratification of squeezing out just one more thing on my to-do list is so tempting?

How do I remember to carve out beauty when, after a full day at work, all I want to do is crash head-first into bed?

But perhaps even that perspective is wrong. Perhaps compartmentalizing beauty from every other part of life is the problem.

Maybe a long full day, in which our talents have been used and expanded, during which our brain and heart and muscles have been stretched, at the end of which we are utterly spent, is beautiful.

Maybe being worn out from work, being drained from caring, being tired from long hours, is a blessing.

Maybe the very act of labor itself, whether physical, mental, or emotional, is just as beautiful as the resulting product.

Over Christmas, one evening, I was sitting in our living room watching my dad fill our wood-stove with logs. Dad, who is immensely intelligent and talented, but rarely poetic, suddenly turned to me and said, "Do you want to see beauty, Emily?" Then he pointed to the log.

It was beautiful because it was producing warmth for others. It was beautiful because it was being spent on others' behalf. It was beautiful because it was giving all it had for something outside of itself.

So perhaps labor and sweat and emotion and energy and time and talents and the entire process of being poured out into whatever field or place God has placed us are all part of creating beauty. And maybe sometimes the only difference between a hopeless spiraling rut and a meaningful, rich path is this realization.

Blessings I am grateful for today:

72. Mom's understanding
74.The baby voices of my siblings on the phone
78. A lovely Sunday morning at Eastern Market and brunch at La Pain Quotidien with friends


Ostriches Look Funny said...

Can I just say as a side note, that the Madeline L'Engle quote in your sidebar was what I needed to read?
I haven't been writing, but I need to be more disciplined about it, instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of amazing and awe inspiring words.

Emily said...

I'm glad you enjoyed that quote...I love that one! Kind of a kick in the pants when I'm using "lack of inspiration" as an excuse for laziness!;-)