My Why


I love beautiful things. I love beauty in nature and art, in music and colour. I love the beauty of words beaded together to create sounds and imagery and ideas that make me laugh or cry or sing or stop me in my tracks with wonder.

And, then there's the wonder of touch as we stroke the silken hair of a newborn, the softness of a kitten's fur, the smooth, satiny finish of a gleaming antique table. What about the exquisite nature of smell when a person breathes  in the fragrance of hansa roses, a lovely French perfume, or the zesty citrus of fresh lemons. What about fresh-mowed grass? Heavenly!

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 true portrayal of Him? 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.

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I'll always be indebted--grateful beyond words--for three 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.

First, there is the well-beloved author of books like Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Not only have I loved her stories but I found the themes in her life and writings began to provide me with answers and insights to the issues and concerns of my then-young heart. So often I would find in her writings the same things I’d been pondering about. She taught me to appreciate the joy and beauty of my world, regardless of happy or unhappy circumstances. And whether I'm pursuing the art of letter-writing inspired by reading her own published letters, or I'm writing articles, working on a memoir, or posting here, there she is...a mentor from afar. I shall always remember sitting, pen and paper in hand, trying to capture something of the twilight beauty of a long-ago summer evening and becoming aware that I wanted to write, that I wanted live my life so that I, too, would learn to watch for those glimpses of beauty in unexpected places.

Second, 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. Click here to read my post of how I first 'met' this lovely magazine.

Third, 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. When I first read that book many years ago, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  Here was someone who could show me how to live a beautiful life. When she talked about how you could create even the inside of your refrigerator into a place of loveliness, fruit in bowls and not plastic bags... oh yes, I knew I'd found a mentor most delightful.  

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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 my why! It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks. I'm not a painter or a photographer, but I can use words to share the colours and beauty I see around me. And so I write. To inspire, to encourage, to hold out words of life for healing and hope. With the desire 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.