As a young woman, I’ll never forget the day when I read the ancient writings in the Book of Genesis that the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden…and out of the ground he made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight. Wow… you mean they were designed just for their ability to please the eye and not just to produce food?
Something that day became alive inside me. I was relieved to know that my yearning for beauty around me was okay – not just okay, but actually good and wonderful. I was free to love and enjoy the beauty of Creation around me. It wasn’t being frivolous. Flower gardens were just as needful as vegetable gardens. Beautiful things, whether it's God himself who makes them or those individuals in our world who share gifts of music, art, garden design, architecture, writings, crafts of all sorts…they are all given for us to enjoy and receive inspiration, refreshing, even healing.
It’s about finding glimpses of heaven in unexpected places here on earth. Sometimes, maybe too often, earth doesn’t feel very heavenly, so it’s learning the art of choosing to live in beauty, so that wherever we go, whatever we do, whatever we say, we will find it seeping into our very nature and leaving traces of it in our wake.
Which in the end leads me to Him, the One who created all that is beautiful in nature...our world, our universe. And we love Him for it. There are religious practices which make Him appear ugly, mean-spirited and dreadfully dreary, but how can that be? A person can only create out of what is already within. So when I see the glory and beauty of the natural world, I know He has a beautiful heart. And so I long to be a co--creator of beauty with Him.
I'll always be indebted--grateful beyond words--for two lovely ladies who, many years ago now, became my inspiration. They have been, and continue to be, my mentors in the art of living beautifully. Although not an actual flesh and blood person, I consider the classic Victoria magazine, under the graceful editorship of Nancy Lindemeyer, one of my leading ladies. Through her pages, she has given me a vision of loveliness like no other. And, it was through the magazine that I first 'met' another excellent example to harken... Alexandra Stoddard, author of many books, including my favourite, Living A Beautiful Life. She really touched my life and showed me how I could live a beautiful life.
Some people have the gift to share the beauty they see through words, photography, and the creation of beautiful books and magazines. Others share their vision through homemaking and raising their families in nurturing, sheltering ways. There are those who do it by dedicating their lives to careers that bring hope to destitute people.
And there are creative individuals who share their vision through art and painting; people like painter Vincent van Gogh. His works are beautiful, but the rarer gift, perhaps, is that he had eyes to see the beauty everywhere and the generosity of 'simply loving what he saw and then wanting to share it with others, not for the purpose of showing off, but out of generosity.'
It was author Brenda Ueland, in her book, If You Want to Write, who captured that creative essence of what artist Vincent van Gogh longed to do with his art. As I read the piece below, it turns out my own heart was playing the same melody of longing to share the beauty I see and the hope I feel.
As a young man in his early twenties, he was "in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamp post, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks. And then on his cheap ruled notepaper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it."Yes, that's what I want to do... here on this blog! I'm not a painter or a photographer, but I love to paint the colours and beauty I see around me using words. And so I write. To inspire, to encourage, to hold out words of healing. With the hopes that they will motivate you to look around, to see the beauty, and to live with joy because you, too, have caught a glimpse of heaven here on earth.