I’ve found that experiencing beauty as a regular part of my day requires cultivating a welcoming space: physical space, such as having a special area to display something I find beautiful or art supplies at the ready for creating; space in my schedule to intentionally notice beauty, such as walking to a look-out, taking my camera on an urban hike, hand writing a letter, or sharing a meal and seeing the beauty of a friend; and mental space, where I release behaviors and thoughts which clutter my head and blind my eyes to joy, and instead look at life with a gaze of gratitude.
When I invest energy in looking with a grateful eye on all that is beautiful, small things and experiences especially, it balances me and helps me see life as a whole, not just what is painful or difficult in the moment.
When I intentionally cultivate space for daily beauty, I find that any energy invested multiplies exponentially. Beauty is nourished by beauty.
Awhile ago, I wrote about seeing a lovely cottage and garden near my apartment, and how sad I was, knowing that owning such a place is many years down the road. After pouring out my desire to God, it became clear that I had a choice: live in sadness and scarcity, looking longingly toward a future dream, or make space to be inspired by the real beauty of that garden and to cultivate a similar beauty in my own life.
Making space for beauty, or really anything, is difficult if we keep a death grip on one vision or image of what must fill the space.
Instead, if we clear the space and then let beauty breathe into it (in-spire it), what fits our particular life and situation can grow organically.
We make space for the possibility of beauty. Rather than making demands, we invite, welcome, practice hospitality.
For me, after seeing the cottage garden, inviting beauty meant taking time to clean up my balcony and simply sit, allowing a vision of beauty for that space to superimpose itself on reality.
Clearing mental space helped me feel: my hands were itching to get into dirt and to nurture growing life. I realized I didn’t want a ready-made garden, but to start from scratch.
Then, after planting the seeds, patience was necessary to nurture the space, as I waited weeks for any sign of life and then more weeks until flowers bloomed.
Now, when I look out on my balcony, I see the beauty of that cottage garden, but in a form perfect for my situation. The bees buzz, butterflies flutter, and hummingbirds greet me in the morning. A bit of Eden, four storeys up.
Gardens are all through scripture, places of growth and healing. A garden at the beginning when all things were new, the garden of Gethesmane when tears flowed and angels soothed, a garden for the tomb when the world held its breath. Even for the resurrection, in the garden, Jesus greeted is beloved friend, and what could happen but, “She thought he was the gardener.” So true.
And finally, finally, the end and a new beginning: a Garden around a Tree in center of the Beautiful City.
That final glorious Day will come, but the greening, growing beauty of that Day can in-spire our days now.
Clear some space, welcome Beauty, wait and see.
What is a beauty that captures your heart?
This week, clear some space, in your physical surroundings, in your schedule, and in your thoughts for this beauty to find a home.
No need to fill the space, just let it breathe.
What vision reveals itself?