I’ve Forgotten How to Long for What’s Beautiful

vangoghmuseum-s0176V1962-1920This is not a comeback attempt at a worn down, underused blog. Those sorts of things are like attempts to start a diet or stop smoking “on Monday” or “on the 1st”. Such ventures wither. This is an attempt to claw out my cluttered thoughts, to smear some of my pent-up affections onto a white page. And what really frustrates me lately is my half-heartedness when it comes to the pursuit of beauty.

Now, the woman I married is my definition of beauty, in a sense. That pursuit has ended and she is the culmination that daily inspires. But when it comes to letters, the belletristic quality that pushes me into the next page, that itches through my bones until I find just the right chord or just the right phrase or just the right smell? I’ve forgotten how to long.

I think that’s the problem, honestly. I could probably blame social media or any number of new technological anesthesia, but hearts grow cold over time and through remorseless neglect. But when, in the course of human events, you stumble across the prologue of the Lord of the Rings, something wakes up in your chest. It feels like an increased heartbeat, a rhythm placed where it probably didn’t belong. Or in a bland and stuffed state of mind, eyes completely half-closed, a song about Vincent Van Gogh (your long-lost kindred spirit) spills through the sand in your head. Or a Trappist monk in Kentucky, dead these past 49 years, reminds me that I was born into a mask and suddenly I’m “woke” and desperate for a good cry or a knife fight.

What do you do in those moments? A Gustave Doré painting, Eeyore the Donkey, and a French poodle in a Steinbeck novel all remind me that God fashioned my heart uniquely? The most motley choir ever assembled reminds me that I am not my emotions, but my emotions are not the misfit toys that I have exiled into the cellars of my rational mind.

I’ve got a lot of fiction on my reading list. No one spoil the new Star Wars for me. I’m learning to long for the good stuff again and I think God is pleased that I’m rediscovering his gifts.

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Cultivate a Little Wonder

G.K. Chesterton (a wonderful balloon of a man) once said, “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” This world is stuffed full of wonders. Right now, I’m re-watching Planet Earth, that excellent BBC documentary about God’s green earth. It’s not just David Attenborough’s beautiful narration that makes this series wonderful. It’s the sense of wonder that it instills in me.

Yes, it is full of wonders. That’s obvious. The largest living organism in the world (a sequoia named General Sherman) stuns me even as I sit on the couch covered in blankets. The fledgling flight of mandarin ducklings makes me giggle. The loss of a snow goose gosling to feed starving arctic fox kits fills me with cringing shock and somber acceptance all at once. One dies so another can live and God feeds them all.

But this world of nature does more than show me splendors. It creates a space of fullness within me. It fuels worship, I think. It makes me realize how small I am in this blue speck of dust that slingshots through a vacuum. And that makes me smile.

Watch nature shows. Look at birds. Listen to Bach. Climb a tree. Do a math problem (if you enjoy math). Have a hug. However you get at it, cultivate wonder. And be thankful.