We dance in moth-eaten moments of this life and sing about glory and holiness but do we truly reflect God’s glory Monday through Saturday?
How can we understand holiness when our cultural refrain shouts for justice at the expense of God’s Otherness.
The Christian faces a culture bent on self-expression, and scientific positivism, which produces an egocentric society that rejects God and embraces the material world as our final word on the hard questions of life.
The end result of such a philosophy, however, can only lead to defining life as utterly meaningless. I am reminded of Iris Murdoch’s stinging critique.
She says, “we no longer see man against a background of values, of realities which transcend him. We picture man as a brave naked will surrounded by an easily comprehended empirical world.”
So what will save us? What will open our eyes, and help us to see? What will recover our inner richness? What will infuse us with saintly saltiness, to borrow from Chesterton?
We must regain our grasp and gaze on God’s beauty, and not just his moral goodness.
We must join with Jonathan Edwards who saw God as “the foundation and fountain of all being and all beauty.”
He did not view beauty as a consolation of this world, nor as a refuge, but as the platform of his theology and of his thoughts.
We must calibrate our sensibilities toward a way of living and being that champions beauty.
We must reposition beauty as the crown of our thoughts.
But beauty requires us to see.
It requires us to think. It does not passively move upon us or in and throughout this world. It makes demands upon us. It says, “Be attentive!” It says, “Be still.” It says, “Be reverent!”
Harvard professor Elaine Scarry believes beauty possesses the power to save us. How?
Because it invites us to her and greets us. Why is this significant?
Because it is as if the beautiful thing welcoming you “has entered into, and consented to your being in its midst. You want to be there, but perhaps, more importantly, the world also wants you.”
It gives life. It begets and creates in us the desire to beget.
It eases and calms.
It possesses the power to cause situations of harm or unease to fade into the background. When we see beauty, either with the physical eyes or the eyes of the heart, we somehow find focus and the ability to hope again.
It causes joy. Joy is the wonder-gasp, our wind-sucking once we behold the beautiful. C.S. Lewis felt beauty like this and it’s how he describes his encounter with beauty. First a gasp, a quickening, then the rapture.
Who will stand and count themselves as one of Chesterton’s salty saints, his incongruous people?
As the world, yea even the Church, loses its ability to see, who will …
Be still – Who will change their rhythm of life to match the incongruous rhythm of heaven? Who will make real-world decisions regarding their pace of life, their family or personal schedule, their manner in which they worship?
Stillness is not only a matter of sitting still. It more acutely calls us to restraint. To limit. To make decisions based not only on finances, but on quality of time, quality or resources, and the limiting aspect that accompanies the making of something beautiful.
Be attentive – Who will listen? Who will limit distractions, for themselves and for their family? Attention requires an amount of focus seldom encountered in our world. In the business world, it is the leader who can remain focused and go deep into their work who leads best.
To attend requires the sight and patience of the gardener. She works not with [an] immediacy of mind, but with a vision of the harvest. To attend requires a deliberateness that works over time; the reward of which is the bloom, the fruit, the gathering.
Be a lifesaver – Even as our culture drenches itself in the fountain of death, the incongruous saint must define their lives by the springs of life they offer. The saint invites, she greets, and in so doing tells a despairing world they matter, they’re welcome in her midst. Her personal life, family life, work life drips with the waters of ease, warmth, and nurture.
Who will walk into paradox living, into the incongruity of beauty, and offer the world what it needs most?