What is it that directs our hearts and minds on that which is tragic? Of course, we all know the trap of this life. That all is moving toward decay and everything will die. This philosophy is what we naturally dwell on. Is it because we are scared of what it means, that we can’t get it out of our heads that this is our wretched end. That all good things will in some form cease to be. So that we ruminate and taste and roll around in our soul that time is too short to enjoy. That we only have a limited number of seconds in the day that will ever breathe in the aroma of happiness. It is too much to bear, perhaps. That beauty is scarce.
It is fitting, then, to take comfort in the eternal story. One that will never end, joy and sadness expelled from even the realm of possibility. That God of goodness and favor will handfeed his underserved creatures with the most magnificent of fruits and tickle their deepest desires without end. To imagine an existence that our tiny moments of ecstasy will play over and again, remaining centered in contentment. In an uncertain life that is a deformed shadow of what it was meant to be, this hope is entirely logical.
And following this reasoning, the payment for such happiness and bliss should be connected to suffering and hardship before its attainment. As a child I asked the question to myself: what would you choose, little girl? Suffering early in your journey and resting later, or enjoying the beginning only to suffer later? Then, for the self-pitying reflection, I wondered where I currently dwelt on the spectrum of suffering and comfort, what was more to come. I always project for much more hardship on my path, not expecting increased relief or comfort. A devilish counterbalance of good and evil, weighing exactly even at the ultimate counting.
Or worse, stumbling upon unexpected pain that drives one beyond the pit of despair. Fearing the unanticipated devastation that buries deeper than one can claw out of the grave. At least if we have been watchful for this pain, experienced in this suffering, we will not be totally overridden by its sorrow. We will hold a little power over the tragic day because we hold his name, we heard his footsteps, we were clinching our teeth bracing for the darkness, practiced and prepared. Our relentless training to callous the blow, secretly increases our own virtue in ourselves.
And then, imprisoned by dutiful love of the ugly, fearful to whisper the fragile beautiful, virtue becomes the new temptation. Temper the expression of that which was given purely and graciously. Silence the song which draws out wild truth of the created deep. Hide away from the passion that dredges up a hope beyond the present destruction. Beauty is cast as the temptress demon, appearing to lure those who love her to hell.
Yet beauty is truly beautiful, because willfully she commits herself to be what you seek to see. On display in the simple silhouette of the young. In the savored taste of a tiny morsel. Hidden in the silent faithfulness of the oppressed. Sketched by the tears of suffering commitment. She doesn’t dwell in just the evil, she also dwells in the good. She allows herself flow through every vein of life. She is the ultimate characteristic of all creation.
Before there was good and evil, there was beauty. It was all as it should have been. Blades of grass and fragrant flower petals. Chill of the evening and clear skies boasting morning sun. Man strong and fearless, woman soft and loving. Before knowledge entered into our beautiful world, eternity was not a reward for virtue. No, the forever beautiful stands then and now as the foundation of all. While our perception has drastically changed, and our knowledge of ourselves, and our shame before him who made the beautiful for our benefit, beauty has not abandoned our creation, our hearts, and our minds.
The question becomes, how can we possibly enjoy beauty? Now that knowledge has enlightened that we are not worthy of her. Hide away, lock away, don’t pine for the beautiful. It should not be yours. There is no good reason for her. She is not practical or helpful in achieving your goals. She is greater than what you deserve. So, maybe she is not even worth seeking.
But the beauty still haunts. She is righteously forgotten to paint the virtuous tombs white. She is sacrificed to make an invalid payment for sin. Beauty is unsuccessfully removed before the eyes of those who confess the truth of man’s struggle. We try to forget the gifts of pleasure because she most definitely is burdened with pain.
There is no way to enjoy beauty righteously. It is a tragic flaw in our reasoning to think that we can find a way to satisfy this desire in ourselves to love beauty. Overtaken by her charms. Captivated by her lines and curves. We have been exposed as creatures of guilt, only able to withstand moments of beauty before we are reminded who we are. Only able to look for a moment, touch for a second, taste just a tiny bit.
I hear the beauty in your words, how they flow so freely, but then abruptly pause. As if the guilt of speaking of the coveted beauty is more pain than pleasure because of this haunting remembrance. Suddenly, instead of the freedom of smiling joy, a jolting reality dampens the passion. We are not worthy of beauty, of freedom, hide her away, don’t speak of her anymore. Focus on the pain, which surely surrounds. Look for the ugly, don’t expect too much. It is safer that way.
No, my beloved companion, don’t do that. Repeat her searing name. Not only will she endure forever, renewed from the first day God spoke her into every molecule. Recreated more beautiful than we could ever imagine. You and I are free from her eternal death. And right now, beauty lives.
Don’t fear her, my hesitant friend. Repeat her exhilarating voice. Even is she visits for only a moment. Recklessly love and cherish that which is beautiful. In expectation, anticipation, that she has not been overcome. That she will not leave you alone. Don’t worry, don’t doubt, if she can’t quite endure through the day. You will certainly see her again.