The pursuit of beauty is a part of what it means to be human. It unites us on a quest to be human and embrace the humanity around us. This pursuit leads us to find beauty in coming out of darkness and see the beauty in humanity around us.
“In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.” – Christopher Morley
Learning to see and know what is beautiful and why is part of the process of life. This is the key to not abusing beauty or misunderstanding it. There is a glory around us in others and a way to experience mystery in life. To start, let’s examine how wonder is destroyed, so we can proactively make changes in our perspective and current reality.
I have observed an interesting game around me since my early 20’s around me in this overwhelming, loud, dirty and magical city called New York. A search that never stops, the money that flows to fund this search and this game. The search for another moment to experience beauty. The woman searchs for it in purchase after purchase after purchase. The Sephora’s are packed full, the followers of each beauty and style blog or Instagram account multiply exponentially and the men of New York City betray the wife of their youth allowing themselves to follow and search to acquire beauty by spending thousands on bottle service or attempting one night stands with young, beautiful models. They keep searching for those moments, moments that will bring pleasure and meaning. They think they just haven’t found it yet. If they have that girl on their arm, just have that night of pleasure, then they will acquire the beauty they search for. The women strive to become that beauty and the men strive to acquire and experience that beauty. They use each other to try to get to reach the goals, but it doesn’t satisfy. The disillusionment inevitably follows.
“These things- the beauty, the memory of our own past-are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.” -C.S. Lewis “The Weight of Glory”
Look for it in yourself. You’ll see the ways marketing and culture has played off of your Spirit longings. It keeps leading you on a search telling you that you can get there. What if we took a moment to realize that heaven is not going to be fully experienced here on earth, but that there are moments where we glimpse here on earth? What I’ve found is that we don’t find it in the places we think. What if we slowed down from the busy, frantic searching and spent moments realizing what destroys the moments of ecstasy and true beauty? Mark Sayers writes in The Trouble with Paris: “We objectify the whole of life when we worship idols that are simply objects. If our culture holds materialism as one of it’s highest values, the converse reality is that the spiritual, the sacred, and all sense of mystery is sucked out of life. We will then turn the people we love into objects, mere things, whose only purpose is to deliver us happiness and pleasure; we rob them of their humanity.”
Painfully powerful truth. Look for moments in your week where you can remind yourself about the value of people and relationships, as different than tasks or material possessions. Separate them in your mind and see your actions follow suit to reflect that way of thinking. Maybe moments of peace and reflection can give us rest from the frantic search and we can get ourselves back on the right path. The path of acknowledging the beauty of humanity and not seeing those around us as objects. This path to restoring the mystery of beauty and the glimpses of heaven that will follow await each one of us…