Why the beautiful matters

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I started this blog as a way to record the beauty in my life and to show why it matters. I have enjoyed sharing with you some of the beautiful things that I am privileged to enjoy every day, simple and ordinary things, in most cases, that we all can enjoy if we have but eyes to see. 

Why is beauty so important? Does the beautiful matter? Dostoevsky, one of my favorite writers, said that "beauty will save the world." I have pondered what he meant by those words. I can't speak for him, but I do believe that in a world marred by evil, where terrible and destructive things happen every day, it is critical to be able to see beauty, appreciate it, and give thanks for it.

the hydrangeas are finally in bloom here; definitely worth the wait
Over in Iraq, ISIS is beheading soldiers and police. The eastern Congo, "the most dangerous place on earth to be a woman," is home to a whole population of women who have been brutally raped by soldiers. Veterans who have served our country well are dying in our own hospitals here at home because they can't get timely care. You and I both know I could go on and on. The newscasters do, every day.

When I set a pretty table here in my little corner of the world, when I light a candle and put fresh flowers atop a vintage tablecloth, when I prepare a  homemade meal for my family, does it really make a difference? How does ironing linens and organizing a pantry help solve any of the problems we are facing?

 Appreciating the sun sparkling on water, a beautiful sliver of moon rising above the trees, and the brave and funny little chickadees busy about my feeder, is more than just a little thing. I think noticing these things is crucial to a life well lived. When I hold a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, do I breathe in the aroma and give thanks? Do I look outside and appreciate the warmth of the sun, the beauty of the clouds, the life-giving thrum of the rain, in short, the marvelous variety of weather, each beautiful in its way? Do I glance around in gratitude for the home I have and all the memories made within it?


Recognizing beauty points us to the Source of all beauty, the One who created it and sustains it. It reminds us that Someone is ultimately in charge. He gives us these glimpses of beauty, if we have eyes to see, to remind us that there is hope. We need not despair.

the knockout roses are also in bloom here
Someday, all will be restored. But we may not merely wait. We can create beauty around us. We can enjoy beauty around us. We can point others to beauty, and remind them of "whatsoever is lovely." This is not Pollyannaish thinking. We are not burying our heads in the sand. One of the reasons why beauty matters so much is that we know evil is rampant. Recognizing and giving thanks for beauty is one of the ways we do battle with evil. We look for the good and promote it wherever we can. Yes, we vote and volunteer and pray and give money and do whatever else we can in our sphere of influence. 

But, ultimately, most of us can't do a whole lot to change the world in a big-picture way.
 But we can celebrate and appreciate "whatever is true and noble and right . .  ."  (Phil. 4:8) We can try and bring beauty into others' lives. A friend's daughter was able to do this for rape victims in eastern Congo when, as a counselor, she encouraged them to talk about and share their pain with each other. The smiles on the faces of these brave women and their newfound solidarity is beautiful. It matters. Taking an arrangement of flowers from your garden to a friend battling cancer is a way to fight evil with beauty, not only with the beauty of the flowers, but with the beauty of friendship. But it won't cure her cancer, you say. Who knows? It will help cure despair, and that's no small thing.

Providing a respite in your home for someone who is struggling in her marriage brings beauty into a difficult situation. Fortified by a cup of tea served in a pretty vintage cup and a homemade scone set out on a lovely plate with a dollop of lemon curd, sitting comfortably on your deck together enjoying a light breeze and the scent of sun-warmed herbs planted by cheerful geraniums -- it doesn't solve her marital problems, but it gives her strength and courage to hang in there and do battle for what is lost and may be restored.


You are out all day, fighting traffic, listening to heartbreaking and disturbing news, dealing with rude and hurried and harassed people, and you come home and spot a pile of freshly ironed linens stacked neatly in a pretty basket, and you think, "ah, all is well."

"Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as if it does not matter," says the English philosopher Roger Scruton. Many of our books, movies, art, architecture, and music are filled with despair and ugliness. He says "It is not merely . . .  a flight from beauty . . . There is a desire to spoil beauty . . . For beauty makes a claim on us; it is a call to renounce our narcissism and look with reverence on the world."

We can choose to embrace the beautiful in the choices we make, the books we read and the music we listen to. And I don't mean hiding out and only reading Anne of Green Gables, as much as I love that series. I mean choosing the things that help make us better people and help us love and appreciate and fight for Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. And we can share these things with our children and with those whose lives are broken and hurting.

As William Wordsworth said, "What we have loved/others will love, and we will teach them how."

The next time you make a lovely homemade soup, cut flowers from your garden, iron a tablecloth, or spend a few moments gazing into a twilight sky, remember that you are doing battle. You are resisting the forces of ugliness and evil, and championing the cause of the true and the beautiful. And yes, I do believe it is that epic.


Linking with Home and Garden Thursday * Home Sweet Home * Show and Tell Friday * Pink Saturday * Share Your Cup Thursday * Feathered Nest Friday

(The quotes from Scruton and Wordsworth were found in the July/August 2013 edition of Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.)

35 comments :

  1. Deborah, what a wonderfully thought out post...and you are so right on! Among all of the beautiful things this life has to offer, we all know that there is dark and ugly side....but who wants to dwell on that? I am right there with you, Sister...finding the beauty in everyday surroundings is what I strive for! Thank you so much for this great post! Have a blessed July 4th weekend!

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  2. So beautifully said, Deborah. Thank you.

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  3. Beautiful words you have written and so very true. I believe the same way you do. Thanks for writing it down so all can see. The Flowers and Tea Sets are so pretty!

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  4. I agree and think it is important to take care of ourselves and make sure our homes reflect our happiness. We need to surround ourselves with beauty. Philippians 4:8....whatsoever things are lovely, think on these things. ( I think this is the first time I've ever quoted a scripture in a comment!) Enjoy this holiday week! Sweet hugs, Diane

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  5. Oh Deborah, that is so amazing and so beautifully written.

    May I please trouble you to email your snail mail address?

    God bless you and keep you in His Care always. Hugs. ~Michele

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  6. A beautiful post Deborah with much to think on. When my mother had difficult days, she would always "sing His praises" and would be doing the housework singing her favourite hymns. I never felt that she was sad when she sang, but I think she must've been singing to make the best of some bad situations. This is sort of along the same lines as what you've said here, and by singing His praises you're bringing forth the best in this life and dispelling sadness & evil. Wendy

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  7. Dear Deborah, your post is beautiful and so well said. Yes looking towards the beauty around us gives peace and happiness. Taking care to try and do the right things in life can be passed on and somehow just might make a difference even to just one person. I agree with you completely. Thank you for sharing your heart. You are a blessing my friend.
    Have a wonderful 4th of July!
    Hugs

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  8. Beautifully said, Deborah. The world out there is full of sad and discouraging news, every day. If we are able to find beauty in this world, it does a service to us all to point it out and make the most of it.

    Visiting from Home and Garden Thursday -- thank you for sharing a well-written post. :)

    Hugs,

    Denise

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  9. Oh my, Deborah, you have outdone yourself. So thoughtful and thought-provoking, It makes me think of Edith Schaeffer's classic, The Art of Homemaking. She had a way with words and important ideas, as do you. Really truly inspiring and beautiful. Your photographs of the hydrangea are simply breathtaking; I feel as though I could reach through the screen and touch their velvety softness. Wonderful post. I'd like to share it on my Facebook page, if that's okay.

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  10. So eloquently written, Deborah! Noticing, being grateful for, and sharing beauty lifts the spirits and gives us courage to face the world. Thank you for bringing so much beauty to the world. xo Karen

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  11. Dearest Deborah,
    Written straight from your heart and YES, it does matter. Happiness can only be found in the little pleasures of life. May there be a time of peace for all on this earth but I am afraid that will never realize in this life. It is soothing to know there is life after death so all those that found misery in life will get rewarded.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  12. Wonderful post, Deborah - thanks for giving us glimpses of God in the beauty you share!
    <3
    Wendy

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  13. Deborah, this idea was so well written that I had to wait a little while before commenting. There was nothing left to say, except "I agree." I have tried to share with others that the small, beautiful details in one's day can truly make your life better. I used to believe that the reason I enjoy all the caretaking and beautifying of my home was simply because I liked the retro way of homemaking. Now I see that it is also a search to bring out the beautiful and comforting things in life. You have a beautiful way of writing. Thanks for such an encouraging message.

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  14. Hi Deborah,

    Among the many points you make, and so very eloquently, I might add, there is one that I can really relate to, and that is that, realistically speaking, yes, we alone, cannot make a huge difference in the world, but when it comes to our own space, we are able to create an environment that pleases, comforts, and protects us and the ones we love. That, in itself, I find beautiful.

    Thank you for a most interesting read!

    Wishing you a happy 4th!

    Poppy

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  15. I am so glad that I stopped by to read your beautiful thoughts here. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing!

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  16. Oh Deborah, I love your words and your wisdom and yes, the Beautiful DOES Matter! Thank you for expressing it so eloquently. Happy 4th of July!
    p.s. I wish I had a bite of that scone this morning....mmmmm!

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  17. Well said! Thank you for the reminder of how important beauty truly is. Happy Independence Day!!!

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  18. Deborah, this post so eloquently expresses my own thoughts. I feel exactly the same way you do and couldn't agree more that beauty does matter! I have to share a link to this post on my blog...it's too good (and true) not to share. :o)

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  19. Amen and amen.... your words mirror those of my own heart! You've put it so beautifully. What a wonderful quote you've shared by Roger Scruton.

    Here's wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places....
    Brenda
    oxo

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  20. Hi Deborah, I loved this post and how you can make something simple look beautiful! I love decorating with flowers too. Your hydrangea flowers are just gorgeous and beautiful! At my mom's old house she used to have the blue ones and then dried them and they always looked so pretty! I loved how you made the tea and scone look so beautiful too. I hope you are having a nice 4th of July. Enjoy this weekend and thanks for such a nice post.
    Julie

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  21. Wonderful and true. Thanksfor your insights

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  22. Beautiful and insightful post! Just found your blog and I will be back. Your photography is great! I'm your newest follower!

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  23. Beautiful! I agree with every word you wrote. Beauty does indeed matter!

    I found you through Brenda's "It's a Beautiful Life." You have a gorgeous blog, and I will be following along.

    Blessings,
    Patti @ Magnolia Cottage

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  24. Hello Deborah.

    Came over to visit after stopping by Brenda's post.I'm with you 100 percent of the way when it comes to cherishing the beauty around us.

    That's why I love Alexandra Stoddard's books so much. "It's a Beautiful Life" taught me a lot. She always has fresh flowers in her home, even if she gets them from the supermarket!

    Beauty counts and making our homes a haven amidst the evil of the world is truly something we can do with finesse.

    Thank you for your very beautiful piece of writing. Susan

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  25. Hi Deborah! I popped over from Brenda's lovely blog.
    I couldn't agree more!
    Beauty does matter and its in Gods heart and everything He has created. No wonder we love beauty so much.
    I'm following you now and look forward to visiting you here.

    All my heart,
    Deborah

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  26. This is wonderful, beautiful. And I, a lover of beauty, thank you for it.

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  27. Hi Deborah, I do feel it is so important to find beauty in a world that can sometimes be ugly! My mother always taught us to look for the good, the positive, and the beautiful. It makes such a difference in life, doesn't it? By enjoying the beauty that God has created for us we let 'evil' know that it is NOT going to win! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  28. I found myself nodding as I read this, as it is what I believe, so strongly. We may not be able to effect big change, but we can work to make our own surroundings peaceful, loving and safe, and in some small way effect life on a larger scale. I need to make the small things in my life lovely because I work in a stressful and often violent environment. It will do no good for me to be taken over by the negative - much better to bring some of the beauty from my home with me to my work.
    Thank you for this post - timely in so many ways.

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  30. Great post. Yes it does matter to surround ourselves with it. We live for that and love. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

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  31. Good morning Deborah,
    You have mirrored my thoughts exactly and I always like to reflect upon Phil. 4:8. If we can do that then the world around us, can be beautiful. The Lord helps us to find beauty in the simple things and it is a blessing when we can share it with others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject and have a lovely day.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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  32. A true and beautiful post and yes,I do agree with Your thoughts.Thank You for Your visits and committing on two of My post's-Hugs and blessings to You-Denise

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  34. Yes, yes, yes!! Loving, affirming, and creating beauty are ways of declaring God and His works. When we pass on to the next generation a love of beauty, we pass on a spiritual treasure, and if we don't, this treasure will be lost in a single generation. As you say -- smelling coffee's aroma and thinking "thank you!" to God, is so valuable. Thanking God shifts my mindset. It's only one mind, but if each mind were shifted that way, what a difference it would make in the world!

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