LeAnne Martin
Beauty and the Beholder

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beauty Points

Years ago, when I came out of a time of grieving, I felt as though I had finally awakened from a long slumber. Gradually, my eyes were opened to beauty and I saw it everywhere: in my home, in my baby girl’s face, in art, creation, music, words. It had been there all along but I didn’t see it, didn’t fully appreciate it. And it was my loss.

Beauty doesn’t create itself. What I saw and experienced moved me to praise and thank the Creator. I worship the Creator of beauty, not beauty itself. I worship God, not the sunrise or mountains or flowers He made. Not the painting or the painter, the music or musician, but the One who made them possible. As CS Lewis noted, beauty is not the absolute. It points beyond itself. When I point at something, you don’t look at my finger for very long; you look to see where I am pointing. Beauty points us to God.

To me, that God would give us beauty is amazing and humbling. Why would He do that? I believe God loves us. I believe He loves beauty. I believe He is beauty, and He has lavished it upon us with joy and abandon. Do you see it?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just Another Day at the Farm

It’s fall. A beautiful, warm day at the pumpkin farm. The brilliant blue sky fills in the background behind a row of pines, green as ever. A red-roofed pavilion houses displays of Indian corn, boxes of grotesque gourds, and parents with little ones. A maple tree, tall and bent a little, shows off orange leaves, not to be outdone by the profusion below. The orange of the pumpkins explodes against brown dirt and yellow hay.

It’s our second annual visit with her grandparents. She’s two this time and can walk and even run among the misshapen, mutant-looking pumpkins. She’s looking at the camera with eyes squinting in the late morning sunlight. Light bounces off long blond hair as she stands next to a group of the largest pumpkins, their shadows taller than she is. Her hands are clasped together uneasily, plump little fingers gripping themselves. The blue of her shirt, her plaid overalls, even her eyes, reflects the blue above her. Her toddler tennis shoes are too white but won’t be for long. She’s half-smiling, unsure and even a little confused. “What are these things, Mama? Will they get me?”

The photo hangs on my inspiration board—a memory of a day filled with many types of beauty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Through the Mist

In the spring a few years ago, while at a corporate event at a local resort, my husband rose before sunrise one morning and went for a walk. He’s an early riser by nature--he enjoys the quiet before the rest of the world wakes up. In the early-morning hush, he strolled through the manicured grounds of the golf course. As he topped a small knoll, his eyes caught a sight that amazed and stilled him: through the light mist ahead of him, a dozen deer stood motionless on the green. He stared at them for a few moments until one of them caught his scent and they all bounded away. Watching them, he felt both sorry to see them go and elated that he had seen them at all.

The next spring, my husband’s company had another event that brought them to the same resort. Up early the first morning, he set out for the golf course. Would the deer be there? He walked slowly, careful this time to be as quiet and alert as possible. He watched for them. And a little while later, he again saw a group of deer, a beautiful sight through the mist. On that spring morning, he went looking—hoping—for beauty and he found it.

Do you look for beauty? Where? I’d love to hear about it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Beauty Before the Blue

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

On our daily drive to school, my daughter and I take a long, winding back road lined with older houses and mature flowering trees and hardwoods. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons, and during those months, the scenery on the side of the road is a show-stopper.

But one chilly morning, as we started our drive, it was the scene above that grabbed our attention. The sunrise stunned us. While we wound our way on that curvy road in the early morning light, we caught glimpses of brilliant colors through the branches overhead. We talked about each color as it intensified and then faded a few minutes later.

“I see pink!” she’d cry.

“I see orange!” I’d say.

As we watched, I thanked God out loud for the beauty in the sky. A few minutes later, my daughter said, “I think God did that just for us. He knew we’d be on the road right now.”

“Yes,” I said, smiling to myself. “He knew how much we’d love it.” And He knew I’d talk to her about the One who created it. The beauty of that sunrise and of that moment with my daughter filled my heart with praise. Awe and gratitude stayed with me long after the colors disappeared into the blue.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Jar of Clay

It was our first anniversary. One year of marriage. One wonderful and, at times, stressful year of becoming a couple and a family all at once. Our paths to each other had taken many twists and turns but God brought us together, surprising and delighting and thrilling us both.

So, to celebrate, he and I stole away to a lovely little mountain town that becomes a large mountain town when it’s swollen with tourists during the peak season. But that weekend, it was just the locals and us. We felt spoiled because we had the restaurants, shops, and streets to ourselves.

One day, after a very nice, almost gourmet lunch in a small hotel restaurant, we drove down the street to the art gallery. We had spied it the day before and were looking forward to seeing whatever treasures it held. We hoped to find something to commemorate the occasion. When we walked inside, the grayness outside faded with bright lights and colorful canvases. Wow. Surely there would be something special here.

My husband stopped to look at the paintings close to the front. I moved on ahead. When I turned a corner, I saw it, hanging up on the left. It stopped me in my tracks. The painting was large, first of all, and the blend of colors jumped off the canvas: greens, purples, blues, pinks, a band of coral at the top, a light green background. It was striking. I called my husband over and he had a similar reaction. Wow!

A few moments later, he said, “It’s a jar of clay.”

“Yes,” I said. “Like we are.”

The rest of the day, we couldn't stop thinking and talking about that painting so we brought it home with us. It now hangs in our living room. Its beauty reminds us of our faith, our love for each other, and a trip that celebrated both.

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