Sunday, January 08, 2012

Why Do We Hunger for Beauty?

We hunger for beauty. I think that’s because that hunger is rooted in our hungering for God, for a real and profound connection to the Divine. That desire for connection comes from deep in our bodies and souls. That’s because, as theologian David Bentley Hart says, “Beauty crosses every boundary, traverses every series, and so manifests the God who transcends every division.” We are drawn to beauty as we are drawn to the Divine.

Closely linked to our hunger for beauty is our desire to create. While many of us, for whatever "good" reasons, have put off much of our creativity as we age. We’ve put away the Play-doh, making music with kazoos and waxed paper wrapped combs, quite telling each other fantastic stories, and the like. We have quit doing many of the things that gave us joy and hope and meaning when we were young,

These desires for beauty and creation are part of who we are – as creatures created in the image of our God. When we open scripture, the first thing we see about God is His creative nature. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 (NIV)) God brought order and beauty out of chaos. In that same way, a potter takes chaos in the form of clay and shapes it into something beautiful. Or a baker uses ingredients springing from the earth and its bounty and makes a cake. Or a supervisor sees the potential in the disparate talents of a company’s workers and helps fashion them into an amazingly inventive team. Or…

Quaker writer Caroline C. Graveson once wrote

“There is a daily round for beauty as well as for goodness, a world of flowers and books and cinemas and clothes and manners as well as of mountains and masterpieces... God is in all beauty, not only in the natural beauty of earth and sky, but in all fitness of language and rhythm, whether it describe a heavenly vision or a street fight, a Hamlet or a Falstaff, a philosophy or a joke: in all fitness of line and colour and shade, whether seen in the Sistine Madonna or a child's knitted frock: in all fitness of sound and beat and measure, whether the result be Bach's Passion music or a nursery jingle. The quantity of God, so to speak, varies in the different examples, but His quality of beauty in fitness remains the same.”

Seen that way, beauty is redemptive. Creativity – whether in the art studio or lived out in the workaday world – invites us to participate in God’s redemption of this world. God calls us to bring beauty and order from chaos; to bring glad tidings of great joy at this and every one of God’s seasons.

Why do we hunger for beauty? As children of the living, creating God, how could we not?



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Gayle said...

Love this post, I think beauty heals us. Think of how we send flowers to someone who has lost someone, we get our in nature when life beats us up and come away healed. And we have to somehow make time for creating beauty in whatever form in our lives.

Padraic Murray said...

Wonderful post! Healthy, happy. Helpful! In Friendship!