Looking for Beauty

Looking For Beauty

Recently, in a passing conversation with one of my co-workers, she remarked that she could not work or reside in places of clutter and chaos because as she explained it, she needed to be able to "see" and experience "beauty." Unknowingly, she had given me a gift of a new spiritual practice that is looking for beauty every day. The beauty of God's creation and God's beloved is all around us, but most of us miss it because we are too distracted, too disengaged, too discontent and too discouraged to fully pay attention and SEE the beauty.

I confess that I am guilty of this, just as much as the next person. In fact, after sharing my new spiritual practice with her, I was traveling (not driving) with my husband and older daughter on our way to meet up with my youngest daughter. I received a reminder text from this co-worker, which simply read, "What beauty have you seen today?" I laughed aloud, because she had caught me. Up to that point, I had spent most of the trip catching up on work. I sent her a picture of my computer screen and thanked her for her spiritual nudge and invitation to look up and look out.

At the closing worship service of General Synod last week, the preacher, the Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, challenged pastors, delegates and visitors to consider the words of the prophet Isaiah as he urges the people of Israel to "lift up" their eyes to see the future God intends for the people of God. She acknowledged that at times like these, it is easy to be fearful and full of despair. "The call of Christ takes courage and commitment and conviction," she said. "It is not safe, it is not familiar, it is not easy."

I believe it is even harder for us to have the courage, the commitment and the conviction that Christ is asking of us as disciples when our focus is on the ugliness, the unpleasantness, the distasteful, the unsightliness, the repulsiveness, and the nastiness of this world. There is no doubt that the one thing we could all agree upon - there is plenty of all of it that we bear witness to every day. Yet, we do have a choice on what we focus upon, what we look for, and what we are willing to see.

We can choose to do as the prophet Isaiah implores, "lift up your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? The One who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name." We can choose to lift up our eyes, to look up, to look out, to look around, and see the beauty all around us.

It sounds simple and to some maybe a bit naïve. However, I can personally attest to the power of this choice. It can not only change your perspective, but it can change your thinking, your actions, your decision making, your interactions and ultimately the world as you transform your corner of influence and your universe. May you choose today and each day to "lift up your eyes" to see the beauty in this world and in your life. In the words of my wise and wonderful co-worker, "What beauty have YOU seen today?"

Blessing, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister