Beauty Will Be

February 2015

Sometimes, when I catch a glimpse of my daughter’s caterpillar eyelashes and see her mouth pull wide in joy, my heart melts all down the front of my shirt.

There is such beauty everywhere. Such heartbreaking beauty that pours me full with equal parts joy and heartache.

The warmth of a big bell, the filtered light through squash-colored leaves, a shadow spread across grass. It’s all so unapologetic. So very much itself. Beauty will just be.

But what do I DO with it?

Beauty can be hard for me. In my grumpier moods, it represents a different, bigger beauty for which I’m always waiting — the not-yet beauty I want in a right-now form. It deepens my bruise, pressing into the pain that throbs along the timeline of my conscious life, reminding me of everything that is still ugly.

And yet it insists on drawing out joy. It’s so spoiled and stubborn that way. It’s so dadgum SURE of itself.

Here’s the vaccine beauty carries against hopelessness: any beauty, even if it’s not the beauty I need in my own personal landscape at this particular moment, is, at very least, someone else’s redemption. Someone else’s tree regaining a once-held majesty; someone else’s family sewed whole with a surprise birth; someone else’s smile restored with some variant of provision. Beauty anywhere means beauty is possible everywhere. Even for me.

Beauty is a sign.

In the New Testament, Jesus did many signs, many acts of surprise beauty. He healed the lame and the blind and the sick and the dead. He gave children back to their parents. He didn’t heal every single person in the ancient world, and those people he did heal still died, eventually. But his point wasn’t to bring the ultimate, all-encompassing beauty. His point was to, well, POINT to it. Point to himself, more precisely, as its herald.

And today, things are still ugly and beautiful, redeemed and broken. Jesus still heals people and also, sometimes, just lets them be. Why do green shoots come up through certain cracks and not others? Why are particular lives remodeled here in time and space and others have to wait til heaven? This scattershot beauty bothers me. It speckles the sidewalk with light and shadow.

But I try to thank God for what’s-to-come, and the meantime-beauty that cannot be denied or ignored. Some Christians want to skirt the pain and difficulty of life, but I’m tempted to downplay its beauty. It’s a harder message.

Not today, though. Lord, give me the strength to revel and melt.

Julie

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