WE were driving through some barren cattle country. It was a hot summer day, and the land seemed parched and tired. The scenery could hardly have been more dreary. But as we drove along, my brother-in-law commented on the patience and concentration of a hawk flying overhead, the symmetry of an oak tree standing alone on a hill, the tall brown and yellow grass dancing with the breeze. Where I had seen ugliness, he saw beauty.
The message of this little experience came through irresistibly. It made me want to express keener observation instead of looking only on the surface of things. It made me want to seek out opportunities for appreciating the beauty at hand instead of complaining about the apparent starkness. And, most important, I wanted to understand more clearly the source of beauty.
Where does beauty come from? Is it always accessible or available only in certain settings? The Bible turns us to God as the author of beauty. ``He hath made every thing beautiful in his time,''1 we read in Ecclesiastes. Could the creation of a good God be less than graceful and beautiful? Could perfect divine Love cause deformity and ugliness?
All real beauty springs from God, divine Love. In the Christian Science textbook Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light. The grass beneath our feet silently exclaims, `The meek shall inherit the earth.' The modest arbutus sends her sweet breath to heaven. The great rock gives shadow and shelter. The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth.''2
If we are not sensing the beauty that continuously surrounds us, perhaps we need to turn more faithfully to the source of beauty. When life appears scarred and dreary, we can pray to realize that divine Love eternally gives man the vision to discern its beautiful creation. We can remember that God is never unexpressed or inactive, so His beauty must be present and discoverable.
Sometimes we may need to exercise persistence in searching for beauty. In a busy department store or on a fast-paced highway beauty may seem absent. But accepting the truth that God is constantly manifesting Himself everywhere in His creation, one can discern something of the spiritual beauty He imparts shining through in human experience. Wherever we are, we have the ability to discover the loveliness of God's goodness.
It's important, though, that we recognize the fleeting nature of materiality. True beauty is never in matter nor the product of it. The loveliness of what we perceive humanly only hints at the true substance of divine Spirit's magnificence and grace. God's creation is, in fact, totally spiritual, and its beauty eternal. This is the beauty that we see more and more of as our thoughts and lives are purified, brought into greater harmony with the divine nature. Beauty is always accessible because it is not dependent so much on one's physical surroundings as on the state of one's thinking.
A radiant sunset, a lovely flower, an unruffled mountain lake, are all symbols of God's infinite beauty. These symbols can point us increasingly to an understanding of God's immortal grandeur and majesty. They can help us cherish the purely spiritual forms of beauty, such as love and integrity, which are undecaying and ever available.
Life may at times seem stark, without a shred of beauty. In a world where poverty, war, and sickness oppress many, the landscape of human existence can indeed seem desolate. But through an awakened spiritual perception we can come to see a different scene and to some degree help those who may be in need.
Learning to discern earth's beauty is not, of course, an end in itself. It is a starting point for discerning the heavenly beauty of God and His infinite creation.
1Ecclesiastes 3:11. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 516. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. Psalms 72:18