The Beautiful Things

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Yesterday, I came across a woman selling roses in a parking lot. Something about her struck me – I really saw her. The deep, sun-baked, lines of her face. The broad-brimmed hat and simple dress she wore. Her dark, gentle, eyes. The small box of roses laying by her feet. She had a sign but I didn’t read it. Is there ever a bad time to buy flowers? I picked-up five roses; one each for my wife, my daughters, and my granddaughters.

On my way home, I stopped at my oldest daughter’s house to deliver roses to her and my two granddaughters. As I handed the first rose to little four-year-old Reagan, her face lit up with joy – a big smile and a sparkle in her eyes. Have you ever noticed how joyful eyes sparkle? I saw the same sparkle minutes later with my daughters and then my wife. A flower, the simplest little thing. A beautiful thing about the feminine genius is that it finds joy in beautiful things.

Last Friday, we held a celebration for our company’s 15 year anniversary. Employees, friends, family, clients, and partners, were on hand to enjoy the moment. Though it was a busy evening, I had several chances to step back and watch the smiles and hear the laughter. I thought, why don’t we do this more often? There were no strangers among this diverse group as new friends were made in the games, at the bar, by the food trucks, or dancing near the band. The common ground of community is such a beautiful thing. And, showing up is also a beautiful thing.

A favorite reminder of Bishop Robert Barron is to “lead with beauty.” His point? We don’t capture hearts with the rules and rarely inspire with our facts. But beauty, ahh beauty, has the power to beguile us.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes…

Lord Byron

The beauty of the world around us is often lost amid its ugliness. We become distracted by the obscene, the discordant, and the marred. Beauty is so often the whisper in the wind, passing us unnoticed as we focus on the demanding ugliness confronting us. Struggle is frequently ugly and pain repulsive, blinding us in self-reflective tunnel-vision. Bound thus, we miss the beauty of human dignity and its connection to the world around it. Bound thus, we forget our connection to that same beauty.

Where else do we find, or miss, beauty? There is beauty in simplicity. Beauty in patience. Beauty in a smile. Beauty in kindness or forgiveness or affection. Beauty appears in tough problems solved and words written well. The voice carries beauty in a song or in the comfort of familiarity. The newborn baby’s cry is a beautiful affirmation of life and even a dirty diaper presents the chance for a beautiful act of caring. That first cup of coffee, beautiful, and then there is the perfectly balanced, pink beauty of a Phil Berry cosmo.

Beauty invites us into another place. It points us toward an eternal joy where we can forget the difficulties and the hurts. Or, at least let them pale next to something more transcendent. When we lead with beauty, we offer a gift – we’re not telling, we’re sharing. We say, “Here is something special. Something worth smiling about. Something worth remembering.”

As I write this, our dog, Edie, is laying at my feet, watching me. Can loyalty be beautiful? How about self-sacrifice? I woke up yesterday morning to an email from a friend with the subject line of: “I feel like I should be doing more.” Is there beauty in giving without expectation? Personally, I find that kind of beauty rather beguiling. Few of us can ever be completely selfless…but it is really beautiful to try.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, someone will likely show up for you in some fashion. Maybe beauty is simple accompaniment on a difficult leg of the journey. Struggling to see the beauty? Find a child. Innocence is beauty, especially when we’ve forgotten our own. Even a temper-tantrum holds beauty in its simple honesty, giving voice to the things we learn to hide behind false smiles, nods, and the insincere “yes.” Perhaps Bono is thinking of this kind of beauty when he sings “Your dangerous, cuz you’re honest.”

The clouds have started to roll in, promising rain and gloom today. Or, is that the beauty of a mild, 70 degree day, and the live-giving moisture of the rain? Perhaps beauty is seeing that that silver-lining in a gray cloud.

Wherever you find yourself today, look closely, you’ll see it. The scales that build up over our eyes fall gently away when we allow beauty to find us. Even the struggles hold it if we look closely enough. Today, lead with beauty and it will likely find you in return.

Beauty will save the world.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

Showing 5 comments
  • Wayne Feest

    Thanks for the beauty of the thought today.

  • John Harrison

    That was great, thank you for sharing.

  • Jarilyn Berry

    I needed to read this encouragement after yesterday. Thank you again for perspective. Can’t wait for a Phil Berry cosmo, either!

  • Olympia White

    Thanks for the Great speech!

  • Rebecca

    Thank you thank!!! I will be passing your words on!!! Bless you!

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wolf in sheep's clothing dishonesty, deception