Spring may have finally arrived. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and flowers are beginning to bloom. It’s amazing how the beauty of nature can lift my spirits.
I’ve been thinking lately how that beauty is no accident. I’ve never met a person who was indifferent to a glowing sunset, spectacular mountains, or the white sand and turquoise water of a tropical beach. While standards of human beauty change somewhat from culture to culture, and generation to generation, an appreciation for the beauty of nature is universal.
Is beauty defined by humans? Or is it something that we’re especially created to enjoy?
If you’ve ever been in a barn or stable (or our old chicken coop), you know that such places aren’t designed to appeal to the animals’ sense of esthetics. Moreover, the animals don’t seem to care. If we make any effort to add some décor, it’s for our own benefit, not that of the cows or horses. It would appear that we are the only creatures to have a desire for beauty. Why is that?
I was poking around the web, reading the thoughts of others about the concept of beauty, when I stumbled across this quote by Terry Tempest Williams:
Beauty feeds a different kind of hunger…Beauty is not optional, but a strategy for survival…Finding beauty in a broken world is acknowledging that beauty leads us to our deepest and highest selves. It inspires us. We have an innate desire for grace.
Yes, our desire is innate. But Williams’ quote falls short. Beauty should do much more than “lead us to our deepest and highest selves.”
It should lead us to God.
Thousands of years ago, King David wrote these verses:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4a)
I can just imagine him out in the fields tending his sheep. With all that time outside, he would have been constantly aware of the changing sky—clouds, storms, wind and rain. At night, there would have been no TV, no computer to distract him, no one to hang out with. No light pollution, nothing to obscure the stars except the waxing and waning brilliance of the moon—equally impressive. In short, there would have been nothing to insulate him from nature, declaring God’s glory.
Much later, Paul echoed the same thoughts in Romans 1:19-20:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse [emphasis mine].
When I look at nature and see beauty, I can’t help but look beyond it all to the incredible artist who created it, and then created me to share it with.
Photos, from top: Colorado (Blue) Columbine; dahlia; Sandhill Cranes at Monte Vista NWR, Colorado; Cottonwood Pass, Colorado; Wood Ducks; Lake Agnes, State Forest State Park, Colorado; Cannon Beach, Oregon; Rufous Hummingbird on Agastache; Salmon River sunrise, Oregon.