Being Saved by Beauty — A Deeper Story

For nearly two years now, it has been my joy and privilege to write once a month for one of the finest and most honest websites in the Christian blogosphere – A Deeper Story. I’ve got a reflection over there this month that came as a result of so much angry talk out here during this hot and sultry summer. Please follow the links here and at the end of this post to read the entire piece:

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“One thing have I asked of the LORD, one thing will I seek: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, NRSV)

Every day. Honest to God, every single day, it is beauty that brings me back from the brink. Some days, it’s the single strongest strand in the invisible net that keeps me from sinking beneath the waves of agony that overwhelm our world on a regular basis.

This life we live can sometimes bring us to a desolate and frightening place. Human beings can be filled with so much hatred and ignorance; the work of the natural world can impinge upon our safety and our peace of mind; racism and sexism and ageism and every other ism you can name — well, they show up in all kinds of ways, both blatant and subtle. There are days when it all feels claustrophobic, paralyzing, too much.

I think that’s why I’ve chosen not to watch the news very much. We don’t take newspapers anymore, either. Maybe I’m like the proverbial ostrich, sticking my head in the sand, falsely believing I’m safe, while the ugliness continues to swirl around my very exposed hind parts.

All I know is, I have limits.

I do not like admitting that truth, I’ll tell you that. Most of my life, I’ve worked very hard to push through perceived limits, pushing to excel at whatever I’m doing. Why? Because I really, really don’t like limits that are imposed upon me by others, which is at the heart of all those isms I mentioned above, isn’t it? Racism, sexism, ageism — one group of people imposing limits on another group of people. And those kinds of limits, I do push back against, gently but firmly.

But I have other limits, ones that I’m discovering in my spirit, in my soul, and they seem to become more and more pronounced as the years add up. There are limits to how much ugliness I can take in, how much vitriol I can absorb. So I generally do not read comment threads that move from discussion to disagreement to name-calling. And I do not follow Twitter fests that quickly degenerate into small bites of not-knowing-much. There are exceptions to this, I know. But for this old broad, the speed and agility with which so many choose to speak is simply beyond me.

In the blogging world, and even on Facebook, I find that I am grateful for friends who can speak back to the ugly, and I try to lend my support with a gentle comment or two, or a Facebook share. But I am discovering that I don’t have what it takes to enter the fray and slice through the verbiage with a carefully aimed retort. For most of the last four years, I’ve been okay with that, grateful to be an encourager and a supporter, a cheerleader on the sidelines, gladly giving way to quicker minds and more articulate voices.

Today, however, at this end of these four years, I wonder: is it enough? Am I doing enough? Do I need to speak up more, maybe even shout more? This has been a matter of prayer and much inner seeking and searching into the depths of my heart and the limits of my courage. . .

Please click here to follow me over to A Deeper Story. . .

 

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Comments

  1. I, too , have retired from the front lines of social struggles. I have never been able to talk or write about issues in which I was unwilling to become fully engaged – and my capacity to engage in social issues now is almost nil. I never liked doing battle with words. What I liked was doing battle with complacency in my own life. Occasionally I would challenge myself publically, and that would help hold me accountable to take whatever action I was espousing. But now, I find that I have said, or written, enough in my life, that my opinion is assumed, and I am thusly avoided as though I am being critical of others. It is uncomfortable for me, but seems to be my reality. But you are right about beauty, it is neutral on such issues. I remember visiting the dump in Managua with a campesino peasant, Maximino. He said he had never seen such poverty. The truth is that he had less money than those in the dump who scavenged for recyclables. But he had the beauty of his village.

    • Yeah – that “doing battle with the complacency in my own life” is where the rubber meets the road! and I LOVE that last small story as a perfect example of what I’m trying to say – somehow the relief of beauty makes a difference, even when things are at their grimmest. Thanks, Newell.

  2. I once always needed to be right. The payoff for having such an attitude wasn’t always beneficial to me or others. I asked the Lord to help to do good and to seek the good of others. Last week, I started saying this prayer when it comes to mind—it’s a question really, “What is mine?” I see the “isms” and instead of reacting, I’m asking, “What is mine?” I have a place in the stories being played out as a human being in this world, but it most likely will not be a fight that I wage in public. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. It means that I am turning away toward beauty, seeking it, daresay needing it. Beauty holds out hope. I want to join God in his plan, let his life, his beautiful life, pour out of me to others. No doubt, I am more compassionate since I climbed off of my soapbox and let God bring to me “what is mine.” I want to be a peacemaker and make peace peacefully. 🙂 Doesn’t that make any sense at all?

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