This past week, I uprooted my pansies as they were beginning to move past their prime and I planted summer flowers. I love this whole process: beginning with a blank slate of soil, choosing flowers that complement each other, and planting them knowing that they are only going to become more beautiful as time goes on. I incessantly check on them when I walk out my front door, observing how they have grown and their bright, vibrant colors never fail to lift my spirits. Their beauty brings joy and hope.
While working at Groton School, not being able to access my support system as often as I needed, I went through a period of feeling isolated. It was a dark, difficult time and I desperately needed some beauty. I drove to a nearby nursery and purchased a hanging plant which I placed right outside my front door. Walking by that single plant everyday, watching it blossom more abundantly as time went by, vastly improved my mood. That solitary basket soon turned into a couple planters on my porch and a container of mint. Now I have quite a few more than two planters, multiple containers growing herbs, a couple hanging baskets, and even a garden to fiddle with. Everyday, the beauty around me brings me joy.
Beauty is not just a thing of sensual pleasure, rather true beauty is something that creates a conduit between the divine and ourselves. God is the source of beauty: beauty originates in the sacred and because of the sacred. Therefore beauty can be a force that draws us back to God and more deeply into God. When we perceive beauty, we are perceiving the depths of God. When beauty stirs joy within us, it is a holy and sacred gift from God. When beauty elicits desire within us, the desire can be for the source of all beauty and motivate us to more closely conform to beauty's source. We are continually drawn ever more deeper into the heart of God.
Of course, beauty is not foreign to Trinity Church. Beauty is present in every aspect of our lives, beginning as soon as we arrive on our church's grounds. The beauty of meticulously maintained lawns, gardens continually blossoming from the spring through the fall, and a harmonious amalgamation of different architectural epochs greet us every time we arrive. Once we enter we find ever-changing art collections, dazzling stained glass, and artfully arranged flowers. There is also the beauty of our liturgy in the sumptuous vestments and paraments, the glorious music, and the prayerful words. All of this beauty is directing us toward God.
The next time you are struck by beauty, I invite you to take a look beyond the particular object or experience, because there is more to see. Behind all beauty is its source: the God who loves us and desires us; the God who continually beckons us through all that is beautiful around us.