We need what Beauty speaks. What it says is hard to put into words. But part of its message is, all is well. All will be well.
Beauty invites. Recall what it is like to hear a truly beautiful piece of music. It captures you; you want to sit down and just drink it in. We buy the CD and play it many times over. (This is not visual, showing us that beauty is deeper than looks.). Music like this commands your attention, invites you to come more deeply into it. The same is true of a beautiful garden, or a scene in nature. You want to enter in, explore, partake of it. Feast upon it. We describe a great book as “captivating” also. It draws you in, holds your attention. You can’t wait to get back to it, spend time with it. All of the things that God wants of us. All of the things a woman wants, too. Beauty invites.
Beauty nourishes. It is a kind of food our souls crave. A woman’s breast is among the loveliest of all God’s works, and it is with her breast she nourishes a baby – a stunning picture of the way in which Beauty itself nourishes us. In fact, a woman’s body is one of the most beautiful of all God’s creations. “Too much of eternity,” as Blake said, “for the eye of man.” It nourishes, offers life. That is such a profound metaphor for Beauty itself. As Lewis said,
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words-to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. (The Weight of Glory)
Beauty comforts. There is something profoundly healing about it. Have you ever wondered why we send flowers to the bereaved? In the midst of their suffering and loss, only a gift of beauty says enough, or says it right. After I lost my dearest friend Brent, there were months where only beauty helped. I could not hear words of counsel. I could not read or even pray. Only beauty helped. It soothes the soul. There’s a touching story told from the hospitals of WWII, where a young and badly wounded soldier was brought in from a hellish week of fighting. After doing what she can for him, the nurse asks if there is anything else she can do. “Yes,” he said. “Could you just put on some lipstick while I watch?” Beauty comforts.
Beauty inspires. After beholding all the marvelous wonders of the creation of Narnia (as told in The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis), the cabbie says, “Glory be!” “I’d have been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this!” Or as Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt at the end of As Good as it Gets, “You make me want to be a better man.” Isn’t it true? Think of what it might have been like to have been in the presence of a woman like Mother Teresa. Her life was so beautiful, and it called us to something higher.