Learning to See...Developing An Eye for Order and Beauty
Last week, I posted about the quality of watchfulness. This week, I want to look at a similar subject -- learning to see. However, this time, I want to explore it from a different angle. I want to talk about developing an eye for order and beauty.
While this trait is akin to the godly traits of watchfulness, thankfulness, and diligence, it's not, in and of itself, something that God asks of us. However, this trait can add skill and satisfaction to our performance of the domestic arts. It can help us appreciate the fine arts. And, most importantly, it can help us appreciate the glory that is revealed in the Lord's creation.
Before we get started, let me mention one thing: Developing an eye for beauty and order it meant to glorify God and not ourselves. It is also intended to help us appreciate our present surroundings and circumstances and make the most of them. If we become either discontent or inordinately focused on worldly things in our pursuit of beauty, we will have missed the mark.
After all, we don't need to have expensive things around us to appreciate beauty and order; there's always a bit of beauty to be seen anywhere. Even in the poorest apartment in the most crowded city, a woman can always look up and see a soft cloud or a tiny bit of gray or blue sky.
We all know the old saying: Two men looked out through prison bars; one saw mud and one saw stars. Seeing beauty and order around us and doing the best we can with what we have -- even if we have only a little -- is a matter of perspective.
The first place to start in training our eyes to see beauty and order is to look at God's creation. God's works can be appreciated on so many levels. Take a rose blooming in a garden for instance. A passer-by might smile, enjoying the flower's beautiful appearance and the pleasing smell. The gardener who planted the flower might have gotten pleasure from learning how to cultivate the flower from a bulb. The botanist who lives next door might pause to marvel at the parts of the flower, as well as mediate about the mysterious genetic code that governs its growth or take note that it is a new hybrid. The chemist and the physicist, who both live down the street might get into a discussion of the molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles contained therein. The bee hovering about it might gather some nectar to make honey. And, the gardener might collect the bulb to make tea.
Likewise, think about the stars in the sky. Viewed from our earth, they appear to be lovely dots that light up the black sky. The sheer number of them awes us. They sing to us about the beauty, the infinite nature, and the power of their Creator. They serve as guides for sailors and other travelers.
In our modern age, we have discovered that these stars are far more distant than they appear, and that they are actually large suns. Still, their sheer number awes us. And, knowing their size and distance from our earth reinforces the message that only an infinite, powerful God could create such wonders.
Think of an apple tree. It is not only pretty, it bears fruit. This fruit not only tastes good, smells nice, and looks pretty, it also nourishes us.
God fashioned his creation to have beauty, function, and detail. All three work together to make a wonder of creation that is truly pleasing. In addition, there is always something new to explore in God's creation. The more scientists discover about teh workings of creation, the more they realize that there yet is to learn.
So, what does this mean for us? First, God uses the beauty, function, and detail of his creation to teach us many lessons. So much of God's word uses items in nature as object lessons for our benefit. We would do well to take a few moments each day to appreciate something beautiful in creation, even if it's only a plant growing on our windowsill.
Second, if we want to create things of beauty, they must have beauty, function, and detail. If we want to create a welcoming home space, we should apply this principle, too.
William Morris, the man who created the Arts and Crafts movement in the late nineteenth century said, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful."