Beauty is something that is very important in a journey to health. Actually life itself, at least all human life, cannot be totally fulfilled unless some sort of beauty exists within that life. You can certainly live but you cannot live well.
In The Bible The Apostle Paul closes his letter to the Christian church in Philippi in this way, “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy – mediate on these things.” Let’s think about these words for a moment.
First you don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate them. These words are good advice for anyone. Second let’s get rid of that word meditate. To meditate simple means to think about. To take some time and quietly think about something is meditation. You don’t have to be a priest or a monk or guru living in a cave, you just have to be a person who takes some time to think about something without interruption. The last thing I would like to point out is that we know when Paul wrote these words he was in Prison. And two thousands years ago prison was a lot worse than it is now and yet he encourages people to think well and several times in this letter he talks of rejoicing.
You and I probably have very different ideas of what beauty is. We were all created with different tastes and ways of thinking. You might see beauty is a large bowl of steaming broccoli, I, however do not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is very true.
I spent some time this morning floating on my back in a pool. My ears were below water level so I could hear very little but my eyes were open. The sun was almost up and it’s brightness was on a very tall tree a little away from me. There was a moderate breeze blowing and I saw the green leaves dance against the aqua blue sky. It was peaceful, it was gentle and it was beautiful.
Being on the rigorous new diet and limiting sugar has kept me away from desserts. I am allowed to cheat on occasion and a few weeks back I had the opportunity to have some chocolate. I hadn’t had any in weeks and the experience was like tasting chocolate for the first time. It was the best thing I had ever eaten. Before things like chocolate were ordinary, now they are beautiful.
The work of Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo Renoir and Van Gogh and other world renowned painters and sculptures continue to take my breath away, more so as I have gotten older. I loved the song Vincent long before I saw the beauty in Starry Night, probably Van Gogh’s most famous painting. In fact I didn’t enjoy paintings much at all until I heard experts discuss it and then I could see what I could not see before.
Music is also a source of great beauty as well as solace for our souls. In music we can hear tragedy and comedy. There are symphonies that can bring us to the height of joy and songs that can break out hearts but music and it’s beauty fills a need in us that I don’t think that we ever actually even acknowledge we have. Music is also something you should learn more about. People say that they don’t like classical music and they lump many different types of music into that category. I did this once as well. But when I learned about it and when I learned what different composers were trying to say I began to see its beauty.
The theory of learning about and experiencing music does not just apply to classical music it applies to today’s popular music as well. I never liked Hip Hop. I felt that it disrespected many of my values and was almost impossible to listen to. And then Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the musical Hamilton and I now have respect for Hip Hop and see its value. It can be enjoyable and tell a story. I hope to find more like this.
Novels and poetry are also sources of beauty. The works of Dickens and Shakespeare can at times bring us both tears and happiness. The last chapter of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens tells us of the actions of a reformed Scrooge. I Challenge you to read the chapter. You know the story but read the chapter and feel the joy that Dickens fills it with. You see the beauty of a reformed man as well as the magnificence of Christmas day.
Tolkien’s work in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings creates a world that is both ugly and beautiful. He paints pictures with words that come to life in your mind. You can see the places he describes and even believe you are there and he awakes a desire to go to these places, such as The Shire, Rivendell and Loth Lorien because he captures your heart. The beauty of his words is that he draws you into his world and you want to stay.
Imagine if we all began to to spend our free time thinking about and experiencing beauty. Our minds may be dragged away from depression and our anxious hearts may be calmed for a while. We may wake up to a new sense of wonder as we look at the world around us. Our senses may become more acute and our hearts experience more joy. This is why beauty is so important in a healthy lifestyle.
So what challenge can I give you today? Go and spend some time thinking about and experiencing what you consider beautiful or lovely or good. Immerse yourself in a novel or a symphony. This is not something that you can just do. You must look or read or taste or hear the beauty you are seeking. Interact with it and think about it. You must experience it. Chase beauty and you will find it almost wherever you go.