I have thoughts that roll around and confound me both before and while I work. (Robert Motherwell said, “When I am thinking, I am working”). And one of the things that really interests me is this illusive thing we have named Beauty.
I remember once walking along on a cold sidewalk, heading somewhere, with some plan in my head. On my left was this ordinary bush. The sidewalk actually went around it. I happened to look up at this rather obtrusive dark green thing, and suddenly was caught to a dead stop. For there were these delicate clusters of tiny silvery-blue orbs all over this thing. They were astounding, and so winsome, and they brought me to tears, right there in the cold.
Here is a photo I took this last month, while at a meal with some friends. A Chinese radish had been carved to reveal this delicate surprise. It too was winsome. And inviting, It is made of just the common stuff from a garden, and yet it has been made with care, and anticipation, and just joy! Maybe the crafting of beauty is just like this. We start with the stuff that’s just hanging around us, but there is a remaking with anticipation and delight. And the result is so much bigger than the crafter can even know.
Beauty is not the meal, but it leads me to the meal. Beauty is like an usher, a silent gentleman who offers his arm. I am at the back of some important gathering, and I am not sure that I am dressed right, or not sure where I should sit. I am worried that I have arrived too late, I am thinking about all this mundane stuff. But beauty comes up alongside me with welcome on his face, and he ushers me in.
Beauty humbles me, and yet it does not win my humility with dominating power. It captivates me by it’s profound and winsome silence. And there is this mysterious ache I am left with after an encounter with beauty, that there is more coming.