Part of Lenten Series You Are What You Do (and Eat): Spiritual Formation in Everyday Life
We can’t escape the pain, darkness, and brokenness of a fallen world, neither can we escape the beauty of Christ’s transforming life. Through the 40 days of Lent we acknowledge this, in us, and around us.
Beauty will heal and save you.
That’s the hope and message woven into the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter. God’s balance of beauty through love, goodness and redemption are His divine antidote to vandalization and brokenness in and around us.
Protesting Brokenness with Beauty
A dear friend of mine who admires pottery came across a large bowl that particularly caught her eye at a recent art show. It was in an amazing shape of waves and the beauty captured her heart. But, it was expensive. So she focused on the joy of another potters three small pots formed together, symbolic of a three-fold cord unbroken.
The next day however, she just couldn’t get the beauty of the wave bowl off her mind. She had to go back. Admire it once more. Maybe the artist would be willing to give her a discount. She had saved some Christmas money – for such a time as this.
The potter was flattered at her admiration of his work. They had a great conversation. As she turned to approach him about the beautiful wave bowl, her bag knocked a large vase behind her, and it fell to the ground, shattering in small pieces.
She was in shock. How could this happen? She came to pursue and acquire beauty, and now she was faced with brokenness – that was very expensive! Right then and there, something in her also shattered. She broke down crying, sobbing.
It wasn’t just about feeling bad for the loss of the art, or the huge cost. It was much more, much deeper.
The Balance of Beauty
You see most of her life is about dealing with or paying for brokenness. She has lived with cancer for over 20 years, consistently for the last 12 years. The 5th round of chemo and treatment she is on now costs thousands. Her life revolves around the damaging consequences of her broken body and other shattered things around her.
But it just couldn’t end this way. She couldn’t just pay for more brokenness and walk away with no beauty. God has always provided a balance of beauty and goodness in her life. She exemplifies beautiful fruitfulness. Each fresh new day she embraces answered prayers, deep relationship connections, pilgrimages and daily ‘love and kisses from God’. Just the other day, the Lord assured her of His love in Zephaniah 3: 16, 17 through three different sources.
So, once again, the spirit of God gave her the gift of being released to keep pursuing and embracing the gift of beauty. The potter offered for her to pay wholesale for the broken vase and the wave bowl. She left with a bag of shattered vase pieces and a beautiful wave bowl: the balance of beauty to protest against the brokenness.
We teeter on the edge of freedom and fear.
Dealing only with broken pieces keeps us deprived, holds us back. The beauty is too extravagant. I can’t justify it. It’s unrealistic, unreachable. I can’t enjoy it because it’s overshadowed by the darkness and brokenness.
That’s why Jesus came. His love and beauty set us free.
He brings light into our darkness. He makes beauty from ashes.
And only the Spirit of God can release us, open our eyes and hearts to see all that Christ is, what He provides for us through the Cross. What He promises to do in us, in the new Heaven and the new earth – is goodness and beauty. Images of fresh flowing rivers, life-giving fruitful trees, no more pain and tears – instead peace, love and laughter.
Beauty matters. The beauty of Christ’s transforming life in us matters.
We can’t escape the pain, darkness, brokenness and vandalizing.
Through the 40 days of lent we acknowledge this, in us and around us.
But then we open our lives to the Holy Spirit, holding on to our visions of God paying the price, transforming and empowering us now and finally making the whole of creation anew – with love, joy, peace, hope – and beauty.
Live out the beauty
Embrace God’s kingdom, His Shalom, His resurrection in you, living in harmony with nature and others each day.
The Spirit of God challenges us to protest the languishing and brokenness. Anticipate and embrace the beauty God provides and promises.
Make this vision come true by living out love and beauty each fresh new day.
It is this vision that enables us to live fully alive, right where we are.
Love matters. A cup of water matters. Creating beauty matters.
A beautiful wave pottery bowl matters.
Henri Nouwen reminds us that “every time we show compassion to a suffering person, every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals, prevent pollution, create beauty in our homes and gardens … we are making the vision come true…Whenever it comes alive in us we will find new energy to live it out, right where we are….this beautiful vision gets us involved.”
That’s the reason why I am coming alive while watching the daffodils I planted in my window boxes slowly open their happy faces to brighten my day.
- Why I feed the wild birds around my home.
- Why I finally painted my kitchen cabinets.
- Why I lead a spiritual formation group.
- Why I write this blog.
- Because living out the vision of God’s love and beauty matters.
QUESTION: What beauty matters to you right now?
For more by Catherine visit her blog 52 Ways to Flourish