I've been working through the study guide and book Captivating by Stasi Eldridge with some friends. As I was reading this week I was really struck by these words of Eldridge:
"Beauty is essential to God. No - that's not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God.
The first way we know this is through nature, the world God has given us."
I'm reminded of Romans 1:20 (NIV):
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Makes sense to me that if creation shows God's qualities - that God must embody beauty.
There's also that verse in Isaiah 6:3 (NIV):
And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
The earth, nature, is full of God's glory. It's apparent that one aspect of God's glory is beauty.
Sometimes I think we are so focused on doing, on things being functional, that we fail to notice beauty. But as I look in nature I see plenty of beautiful things; things that the beauty serves no other purpose than to delight the one seeing and experiencing it.
The power of beauty is so strong, that our culture has caught on to it's power and importance. But in our ignorance of beauty's source, we've missed beauty's substance and purity, and have idealized a corrupted form of beauty. We've limited beauty to a very specific, stringent, criteria that really has nothing to do with true beauty.
Beauty nourishes and enlarges the soul.
Just yesterday I was out hiking behind our house. When you go behind our house you start hiking upward and it opens up into the national forest, it seems that nobody but my family typically hikes there. Due to the light snow the prior night, everything was pristine and it was as if the dog and I were in our own wonderland. Periodically, I stopped hiking and would just gaze about me. I could look up at the mountain tops covered in tress and snow, with a fog beginning to waft about them, weaving in and out among the trees. I could look down into the desert below where the sun was shining and the clouds were dotted about beneath me. I could look at the pure, white, unblemished snow around me. I felt a sense of peace envelope me. I experienced a lightness, a freedom from the challenges in my life. It was as if my heart swelled within me. I was refreshed as I hiked back down to the house.
Beauty does that for me; and God is beauty.
Have you experienced beauty nourishing your soul? Have you had a time when out in nature, or when listening to a concert, or when in the company of someone beautiful, that God replenished you? Can you think of a time when God used beauty to increase you capacity to experience Him?