Seeking Out Beauty
It strikes me just how quickly the excitement over New Year’s plans and dreams can fade. Barely three weeks into 2019, I’m reflecting on the conversations I’ve had recently. I’m hearing stories of grief and loss, disappointment, frustration, fear and anxiety. Of course it doesn’t help that the gray-sky days seem to be outnumbering the blue-sky days by about five to one. So I thought perhaps we could all use a little mid-winter refreshing, like a peppermint mocha by the fire on a cold, dreary day.
We have a family tradition we call “Kodak moments & word for the year”. Each year, sometime around the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new, we gather around the living room and reminisce. We each share our high points – our Kodak moments – of the previous year. This always sparks a lively discussion of “Oh yeah! Remember when…. ?” It’s so easy to forget the special moments and the hard things we’ve overcome. If we’re not intentional about remembering, one year just fades into the next and it feels like one big blur.
The next part of our tradition requires some preparation from everyone participating. We come to this with our journals and our vulnerability, after praying for a clear focus for the coming year and each of us settling on a word that reflects that focus. There’s something strangely exhilarating about this process, about speaking your deepest desires aloud and laying them out there in the midst of a group of safe people who speak life and encouragement into those dreams. Alyssa is our appointed note-taker. She artistically rewrites our words and hopes and goals on a sheet of paper, which we keep in a safe spot to remind us throughout the year.
I’ve become keenly aware of my own tendency to pay closer attention to what is wrong or what needs to be fixed versus simply enjoying what is good.
My word for 2019 is beauty. I’ve spent the last few weeks reading through all of last year’s journals and I’ve realized a few things. (1) I started the year with several goals and areas of focus, but most everything was swallowed up by one particular goal – the loft renovation. (2) It was way more stressful and way more expensive and time-consuming than we had anticipated. (3) It hasn’t exactly brought out the best in me. As trials tend to reveal our true character, the immature, entitled parts of me truly did surface more times than I care to count.
I’ve also become keenly aware of my own tendency to pay closer attention to what is wrong or what needs to be fixed versus simply enjoying what is good. Living in a 99-year-old home has its charms, but with it comes a long list of ongoing repairs and updates and my eye is always drawn to those things.
And of course this doesn’t only play out in the arena of my home. I guess it comes with the territory in the counseling room (“What would you like to work on next? What hurts the most?”), but my propensity to focus on what is broken extends into every other area of life and it wears on me.
So I enter this brand new year with a declaration. It’s a hymn of praise - a prayer - to the God who creates beauty and gives me eyes to behold it. Here it is.
I choose to be a beauty-seeker. Your beauty, Lord, is all around me. It’s in people, in nature, in the words you spoke, in all of your creation. It’s in your Spirit filling your people to the brim so we can overflow your love in a dark and weary world.
I choose to find beauty in each person you bring across my path, as each one was created in your image. I choose to search for beauty as an artist searches for subjects to capture, to get out of my comfort zone enough to experience loveliness I would have otherwise missed. I choose to create beauty, to leave a trail that will bless and inspire future generations. I choose to marvel and delight in the small things, to take note of the gifts you scatter throughout my days. And when I fail – because I will – I will call on the One who makes all things new and begin again.
Because this life we’ve been given …this crazy, messy life… it is glorious and rich and intensely beautiful! His fingerprints are everywhere! May we all have open eyes to see.