“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul” -John Muir
Do you think of beauty as a need?
Do you listen when your soul cries out to sit in the park another five minutes, buy the daisies at the supermarket, or take an extra minute to choose some beautiful music to enjoy your dinner by?
Or do you push past that tiny voice, deeming it impractical, and just get on with the business of living?
Friends, beauty does matter.
It can be hard sometimes to make a case for it, as it certainly isn’t a “survival” need. We don’t need it the same way we do food, water, and shelter. We don’t need it to exist. We do need it to live.
My favorite explanation of why beauty matters has got to be Sara Groves’ beautiful song, aptly titled Why it Matters. It’s found on her album Add to the Beauty, which I regard to be an anthem of sorts for my life.
You can listen to the song here.
These lyrics sum it up:
Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters
This world can be harsh.
It is full of pain and hurt, people using each other and neglecting each other.
Even in the most blessed and safe of lives, it can be full of toil and fatigue, and wondering if the hard work you’re doing matters at all.
Beauty is the antidote to that.
It is the protest of all that, as Sara so simply and eloquently states.
Beauty is God’s handwriting, even in the midst of a confusing and sometimes ugly world.
The rub, of course, is that with all good things in life, you must go looking for it.
Beauty is no different.
The good news is, it can be relatively easy, cheap, or free to seek out beauty in your day-to-day.
Here are 13 simple ideas for how you can enjoy beauty right this minute.
- Watch the sun rise or set.
- Take a long walk in a beautiful setting.
- Take a walk in your own neighborhood, challenging yourself to find three (or more!) beautiful sights. Take your phone along and take pictures to document your findings.
- Make eye contact with your children or spouse. Put down your work when they talk to you. Sit on the floor to play with them.
- Take 15 minutes to remove clutter, old mail, or anything ugly from one spot in your home, and run a cloth over it for a quick dusting. Now you have one serene spot in your home.
- Light the expensive candle.
- Use the expensive body wash or lotion.
- Play music while you eat dinner. Try something new, like classical or jazz.
- Eat a meal outside on a blanket in your backyard or the park.
- Go to a beautiful shop, like Anthropologie or a local art boutique, not with the intention of buying anything, but just to let your eyes savor beauty. Perhaps you can glean some ideas simply from how they arrange things to use in your home? A lovely way of stacking books or setting a table?
- Bring fresh flowers into your home. Whether you pluck them from the garden, or bring home a $5 bouquet from the grocer’s, this little spot will be a taste of freshness, luxury, and the natural world every time you spot it.
- Read poetry, a novel, or a play. Bonus points if you do this out loud with your spouse instead of watching TV tonight. Sound weird? This is how people entertained each other as little as 70 years ago.
- Instead of an email or Facebook message, write a friend a little note on lovely stationary or a postcard. This does double duty: bringing beauty into your life AND your friend’s.
The options don’t stop there.
I would certainly love to hear what you do when your soul thirsts for beauty! How do you take time to notice “God’ handwriting” in the midst of your busy life?
This week I would love to know: Did you try one of these challenges? How do you add beauty to your life? The more ideas we have, the more we all can fully savor the beauty and blessings available to us.