I love beautiful things.
Now I know I represent the gender pool you'd most likely expect to hear this type of statement from. But let me assure you, the well this remark rises from does not spring from the latest Prada line or ahem...my last Target purchase.
I recently took a trip back home to be with my folks for Christmas. We only planned to be in Texas for 7 days but by week's end I was immersed in the beauty of all things family.
It caught me by surprise really.
I suppose one doesn't prepare to experience the thrill of wonder within the framework of the familiar. But there was something special, unprecedented and new that slayed me when I caught our 5 year old Sophie burrowing in my Mother's arms. It was a feeling that made every chamber of my heart pump faster with deep pulsating gratitude. I felt it again when I watched an especially tender exchange between my Father as he cradled Jonah's sleepy head to give him his morning milk.
It was a visceral experience. I was completely awash with beauty.
I basked in the glow of all things good. So much so, that I could feel my heart sink when I realized we would have to leave the garden. And in that moment I felt as if I would give anything to maintain my place in the soul-filling joy of my own small corner of Eden.
It's a nagging sentiment that can invade its way into the purest of joys:
“All good things must come to an end.”
With a heavy heart I began to wonder why. Why am I and why are we drawn to beauty and beautiful things? Is it our way of peering past the gates of the mundane into a glimpse of that first glory? Is it our attempt to gaze ever so dimly into the wholeness and endless joy we would've known if not for the fall? Do we ever find ourselves pining for beauty as if it were a 'quick fix' or a way to soothe the restlessness common to man?
My questions began to peel the symptoms of my soul sickness back, layer by layer until the very core of my struggle was exposed. The longing to freeze frame the beauty of any given glorious moment, my disdain for separation and the ache of loss were all branches of a deeply rooted tree and symptoms of seemingly incurable homesickness.
“You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind,
your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
The night before our return trip to Tennessee I had tossed and turned trying to avoid tsunami sized waves of dread. As I wrestled my questions and fears to the ground I found myself emerging on the other side, open armed and able to offer thanks for the goodness and beauty held in our time with family. With a newly settled heart, sleep wooed me in. Twelve a.m. brought a timely swell of gratitude.
We're invited to dwell in the One who bestows beauty
We have a choice between the temporal and the eternal
Morning called at 3:00 am and our departure was imminent. We kept our goodbyes short and drove out into the dark night. “Goodbye Texas” said one tiny trembling voice in the back seat. I swallowed the lump in my own throat...hard. For the next three hours, off and on, our sweet girl wept and begged us to go back and for the next three hours I braced myself and begged for strength.
Somewhere in between the rise and fall of her teary pleas
I managed to whisper these words.
“Lord, I know you understand how I feel.
Afterall, You left Your father to go to the place where
He needed You most.”
“God, I really don't have any answers right now.
All I know is that....You...love...me.”
And just as the word “me” left my lips I opened my eyes and heard Jake exclaim “Do you SEE that?!” In spite of my wonder and awe, I very calmly responded with a quiet “Yes”
What happened in that moment seemed other worldly. An enormous and brilliant shooting star was taking a glorious golden bow in the total blackness and void of that wide Texas sky. And you will have to pardon me, and perhaps indulge me, but in that moment, it felt as if this amazing display was meant just for us.
There were no other vehicles on that long lonely interstate in the wee hours of December 29th, 2013. No other witnesses to speak of. Only the absolute peace and consolation we experienced in knowing we were not alone out in the long and lonely stretches of a dark tearful night.
There was only grace which had been imparted in that moment
as we understood our sadness and longing had been under
divine observation all along.
It's 2014 and I'll tell you this: I still love beautiful things. I will forever have a weakness for sunrises, shooting stars and long visits with dearly missed family. But I'm asking my Father, the great and sovereign timekeeper to fix my eyes on He who speaks all beauty and every moment into being. I'm learning to make my home in Him and it's no suprise-
Beauty follows Him wherever He goes.