Beauty-Stalker

I have become a stalker of beauty, for moments of extravagance. My life has recently intensified in terms of busyness; my schedule tightened and became rigid. My remedy: leave my desk, take long winding walks, steal time for conversation. It’s counter-intuitive and seems frivolous, but these stolen moments of beauty, these soul-feeding moments, bring me back to myself and awaken a sleeping joy.

It’s not that I’m a beauty junkie; what comes most naturally would be to choose misery each day, smallness, the dry and mundane. But something inside pushes me out of myself for more and more. So often I find myself reciting Mary Oliver under my breath: “I don’t want to let go of the wrists / of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money, / I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.”

I don’t want to grow so hungry for the things of this world—money, status, prestige, or even productivity—that I lose my hunger for the real things of the world: a blue sky, changing leaves, soft rain, sunlight moving across the kitchen table, laughter with the ones I love. I’d rather leave a few items on my to-do list left unchecked than to wither inside from lack of beauty.

I am never disappointed. An ease comes over me. What I am learning: my God is not a God of scarcity. The beauty that flows from Him is inexhaustible. Not only does this world re-create itself in extravagant gestures moment by moment—and for me, for me!—, but even time and money are abundant. There is money enough for all I need; time enough for all that must be done; time enough to laugh and savor and sleep. My needs shrink away; there is enough and more than enough for all I have ever needed.

There is more to living than mere survival. I am tasting a sweeter way, where life is not a series of transactions, where beauty is not a commodity, where I am not bound by money or time constraints. Instead, each thing—each moment, each individual drop of sunshine, each roadside flower, even each trampled and downtrodden person—is a gift from the good and generous One, waiting to be opened, admired, used, and enjoyed.

More than anything, I want to be the one with eyes to see, the one who has let down my umbrella and is soaking in that good life-giving rain, the one who spends everything in extravagant praise. All around me, everything is on fire, charged with the goodness of God. How can I not spend my days looking for the flame and saying, thank you, thank you, thank you, every time my eye lights upon it? And if not me, then who will?

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