The flower vases sit empty; the faded and shriveled remnants of last week’s bouquets have been cast aside. “Can you cut some fresh flowers?” Mary Helen asks as I head outside for my morning check of the garden. We love to have vases of flowers beautifying every room.
Wherever we live I have to plant flowers. Even when we lived in a walled-in house in a dusty Pakistani town, I pulled up some of the courtyard bricks to plant flowers.
I believe God created us with an innate longing for beauty. It may be buried beneath stronger desires: security and self-assurance, love and community, power and wealth, food and drink. But somewhere it lies waiting to be recognized. I remember reading about a young child walking with its mother down a dirty alley in one of our cities. Suddenly the child stopped and pointed at a flowering weed growing in a crack of the potholed pavement. “Pretty,” she said.
As we gaze around our world and beyond, if we have eyes to see, beauty leaves us with our mouth hanging open. Fields full of daisies. A sky full of stars. Butterflies and goldfinch. The stark beauty of the desert or the arctic tundra. Snowflakes gently falling. The microscope diving us into the stunning beauty and diversity of sand granules, the symphony of life we find written in our DNA, the complexity of a cell, the harmony in a molecule. Or probing galaxies through telescopes. Wherever we go we discover in form and function astounding beauty often partnered with utility.
Of course, this is not surprising. With David who longed to spend his days gazing “upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4) we would expect the glorious Creator to leave his fingerprints everywhere. “He has made everything beautiful in its time”(Eccl. 3:11). The Jewish Tabernacle and later the Temple were made beautiful, constructed as they were according to God’s blueprint. Everything God touches becomes beautiful: salvation itself (Psalm 149:4), the holiness He inculcates in His children (Psalm 29:2; 99:9; 2 Chron. 20:21), the feet of those who proclaim the good news (Isaiah 52:7).
Can you imagine the beauty that awaits believers in Christ beyond the veil of death? Even the book of Revelation, limited as it is by human language, fails to describe fully the heavenly Jerusalem. Paul quotes Isaiah. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”(1 Cor. 2:9).
In the meantime, we should be on the lookout for beauty because beautiful things reflect the glory of the Triune God who made them. Open my eyes, Lord, to really see?
O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy,
how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy
art Thou, Thyself, Creator of all!
(Quoted by Ann Voskamp, p. 102, One Thousand Gifts, from Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain)