Mar 8, 2013
One of the most beautiful things that I have seen in the last several months is the coy, little smile of the 8 month old little girl, Vienna, that my wife Kim is watching these days. When I drop by to pick up Kim at the end of the day, I always try to get to say hi to Vienna. The disrobing innocence of her expressions, the freshness of the wonder her face so vividly portrays (she just tried strained bananas for the first time in her life a couple of days ago and took a couple of seconds to throw her mouth wide-open after that initial taste!) is food for the soul of us world-weary adults. The promise of her being is a beatitude.
We're living these days in the midst of a sprawl of suburbs north of downtown Colorado Springs. Compared to the refinement of the medieval and renaissance stone buildings that populate Verona, Italy where we lived for the last 15 years, these twenty-year old wooden boxes speak mostly of expediency, but we're glad that our house works just fine as a place to live for our family. However, when I take a walk up the hill outside our neighborhood I can see clear over to the hills in the west where Pike's Peak looms like a benevolent patriarch, watching protectively over the hundreds of tar-shingle roofs and the people living under them. Every day the mountain dresses differently, thanks to shifting clouds, snows, and light. Even after a thousand glances it can still take your breath away with a look you've never quite seen before. It is always, in the truest sense of the word, majestic. The enchantment of its beauty transforms the city into a special place.
Beauty testifies that there is a generosity at the heart of the universe. Our task is to slow down enough to notice it and to hear what it has to say to us so that it does its transformative work way deep down inside. Gratitude is the soul's sure sign that we've listened. The voice of beauty whispers many messages, but always implicit in every utterance is the affirmation that "I am here for you . . . as a gift." In all of its manifestations, both around and within us, beauty is framed by a giving love.
None of us has earned the wondrous blue-green spectacle of the earth or the angelic presence of a new-born baby. We often get better than we deserve. Sometimes we get less than we deserve. What a grace it would be to give up keeping score of events, that we might learn to reimagine our existence in the light of beauty, as a gift. Then our art, and the lifelong art-project called our life could be a proper thank you.