Before our Easter trip, I made a CD of favorite songs from iTunes for us to listen to on the drive. One of those songs was Something Beautiful by Needtobreathe. I've liked Needtobreathe for a few years now. A friend gave me their previous CD and I loved the rocking music with thought provoking lyrics. Something Beautiful, a new release, is no exception. It hits on a subject that's been on my mind anyway.
A few weeks ago, our pastor preached a sermon where it seemed to me he was cautioning against beauty. The outline said, in part, "Often, the most beautiful things in life make the most tempting substitutes for God." He described beauty as seductive and something to be guarded against. I don't agree with this. I think our hearts are designed for beauty. I think there's a reason that beautiful things excite our senses, our imaginations, our hearts.
I believe we need beautiful things in our lives. Without them, it's all too easy to focus on the hard, the difficult, the heartbreaking. But beauty lifts us out of our everyday circumstances. Beauty gives us somewhere to dwell.
This afternoon in the car, B was going on about feeling bad, feeling left out, feeling inadequate. As I listened to her list of grievances, her voice took on more and more of a whine. She sounded more like a 4 year old than an 8 year old.
I said to her, "Honey, what are you doing right now?""Complaining."I'm not sure how much of this sunk in to her, but her attitude did improve. And I do believe we can choose to dwell in the dreary things of life or in the beauty of life. We can look past the ugliness and gaze upon the blessings we have.
"Yes," I agreed. "What else?"
"Whining.""And who is choosing to think and feel this way?"
"I am.""B, I was just talking with some friends this afternoon about how we all have good and bad in our lives, but that it's up to us to choose what we focus on. You can keep thinking about the bad things or you can choose to dwell on the good."
Now, as someone whose recently been through a proverbial valley, I don't want to give the impression that it's all happy-happy, joy-joy. There were days when I couldn't see past the end of my toes in trying to just get through the day. But beauty did help. A great book read at just the right time eased my recovery. A journal that I am decorating with collage right now is for no apparent purpose other than its beauty - and the lift it gives my spirits to work on it. Beauty has its place. Should earthly beauty satisfy the deepest needs of our souls? No, but I do want something beautiful. In the here and now. So as Needtobreathe sings, I sing along with them. I want something beautiful. And I want to choose to dwell there, in the beauty, not in the muck and mire of everyday life.
Photos are from the WECC Women's Retreat: a table full of beautiful things to enhance our time of solitude.