Invitation into Beauty

yesterday God gave me this beautiful blue feather
so i picked it up, admired it, carried it and decided –

i don’t want beauty for the taking
i want beauty to be for – giving –

so i found a place where i could place that feather
somewhere where someone else could admire its beauty

because beauty calls for us
to see, to hear, to taste
in the greatest beauty there is

the beauty of creation
the beauty of created
the beauty of creativity

so i left that feather there
in the hope that my heart
had seen something
that another heart
would see as beautiful

then i started to wrestle
with myself
because i saw a pinecone

i realised that things
that i think are beautiful
like pinecones and feathers
might not be beautiful to someone else
they might think nothing of them
when they walk by them
they might not even notice them

after wrestling i realise it made
these traces of beauty
all the more special and important
for me to notice their beauty

because beauty cries
to be noticed
beauty was made
for glory
and to be gloried in

when we see beauty in others
we are not meant to envy that beauty

nor are we to glory in our own beauty
if we can see beauty in ourselves

we are meant to see beauty
and to glorify the One
who made beauty

for he is Beauty itself

when i walked by the place
with the feather the next day
it was nowhere to be seen
and it got me thinking:

beauty is that fleeting

it can be there one moment and gone the next

but just because that feather was gone
didn’t mean the beauty was gone

maybe someone else had taken that feather
and placed it somewhere new
(that’s probably my optimism speaking)

maybe someone else had seen the beauty
or maybe that feather had flown away
and its beauty would live on my memory
(that’s probably my realism speaking)

as i was walking i saw another feather
and that’s why i started writing this post

what if God is giving me feathers?
what if God is giving me beauty?

what if all He gives is fleeting?
what if He is giving me all of these
opportunities to see His glory?

how many times have i missed
the opportunity, the beauty?

to glory in beauty
to glory in my Creator

how many times have i failed to see
what’s right in front of me
to see what someone has shared with me
to see someones invitation into beauty

how many times do we reject someone
when they try to share their beauty
or something that they see as beautiful

there is the song that goes
“may we never lose our wonder”

but there is something
i have noticed about wonder:

we lose wonder when we start to wander

why we start to wander, and when we start to wonder
is often only apparent to us in hindsight

there is something that beauty teaches us
about how wonder can turn to wander

for beauty is about how we see
and we wonder and wander
also as a result of how we see

when we are full of wonder, wonder-full
we are filled to overflowing with joy and awe
because of how we consume Word and world

when we lose that wonder and wander
is when we lose sight of joy and hope
becoming blind, and aimless in our vision

if beauty is an invitation
to see differently
and that invitation is rejected
then we can suffer
a disorientation of sight

with hindsight i can see how
this happened to me

when we reject someone’s
experience with beauty
we reject someone’s heart

for me there was confusion and pain
when someone i had respected
made a comment that criticised
my experience with beauty

in that season there was an awakening in my heart
there was love and wonder written over my soul
when i saw the world, i saw God’s fingerprint everywhere

but my soul suffered a shutdown
that catalysed a deterioration
a downward spiral from beauty
wonder replaced by wander

we were on a church camp, at sunset
there was a few of us who ran away
into the bushes to follow the skies
as the world transformed to gold

the colours were beckoning
God was beautifully painting
this masterpiece in the sky
and we wanted to see it

so we moved to a lookout, and gloried

i remember commenting to the others
who were present with me at the time:

that sunsets felt like romance

God was romancing us
writing his Love story for us
calling us to colour, to life

there was so much joy in me
at seeing his works in this way:

Creator and creation
were ushering forward hope

the leader near me was calculated
his next words would deeply wound me
as he challenged what i had shared

this language of glory and poetry
this proclamation of beauty and joy

he questioned my idolisation of sunsets
and cautioned my emotional language use

my heart was torn to pieces
in the name of “biblical doctrine”

in his eyes there was a right and respectful
way to regard creation and Creator
there was no room for poetic license

he did not fathom Creative Love
as a gift from God
an invitation for us
to see the world as He sees it:
full of glory, wonder and beauty

and this is what i have realised
the pain that comes with beauty
the suffering that accompanies glory

for not all will see, and not all will hear
and there are many who claim to see
who attempt to shield us from this love

the truth and sanctification of our souls
the hope and glory in seeing Beauty

for beauty is an act of sanctification
but some distrust and dismiss beauty
as a sin of sight, a curse of the flesh

our Creator has placed us in creation
to admire the works of his hand
to witness his fingerprints

and our Creator has placed in us creativity
to create beauty from pain
to exercise creative gifts that he has given

but some see creativity
as a catalyst for correction

for the remainder of that camp
i remember wondering:

why didn’t others see
God’s fingerprint??

why didn’t others see
or care about beauty?

for many years
i haven’t shared this story
because it caused shame

why wasn’t God allowed
to speak to me through sunsets?
was it really God speaking?

instead of verbalising my hurt

i tried to fit myself
into the box of Christianity
that was “accepted”

i decided to only speak
the language of the divine
that wouldn’t invite correction

i would only point to the Cross
i would only point to Jesus

i wouldn’t point to nature
and see the cruciform nature
of all trees and life and breath

i wouldn’t look to the sky
and be reminded of our risen Lord

i wouldn’t hike mountains
and be overwhelmed
by the heights and depths
of God’s love for me

i wouldn’t stumble in dirt
and remember the
curse on creation

i wouldn’t

until i realised
i was missing the Voice
i was drowning in noise

it turns out God spoke to me
and reminded me of his Word
through visual prompts
through his creation and beauty

so denying that led to silence, absence
stifling wonder led me to wander

where was God?

i could read passages
and passages of scriptures
but they had no life or beauty anymore

i started to experience shame
when it came to beauty and sunsets

i dared not speak
the divine language
that is beauty

which is why
this post has sat
u n p o s t e d
for many years

until recently
when mamabear
sent me a podcast
on beauty, that
opened my eyes
to see that beauty
is not something
to be ashamed of

beauty is indeed
something to glory in

beauty is indeed
something to share

in this podcast on beauty,
they made a statement:

“sanctification is beauty
working in us and through us”

(being known podcast)

imagine that!
beauty frees

beauty ushers forth
a renewing
of joy, of hope, of glory
of perspective, of life

we encounter beauty
in four key ways
(the podcast says):


this life-giving perspective
helps me to now see and know

that the man who judged
and condemned me many years ago
for seeing beauty in the sunset

had not experienced wonder
had not accepted Beauty’s invitation
had not seen how Beauty leads to worship
had not done the work Beauty asks of us

for the act of being attentive to beauty
dwelling in beauty, and sharing beauty


we have to work, to train ourselves
to see beauty and to bathe in beauty

encounters with beauty
leads to three things:




when we encounter beauty
we encounter life

beauty is life-giving
it restores sight

beauty is a journey
it heals and reveals

beauty renews
by overwhelming us
it touches grief inside of us
it accesses our longings
it uncovers desire

when we invite beauty
into our lives
we invite our souls to see
how God is making
all things new
how we are being
from one degree of glory
to another

we are given the opportunity
to be curious
about how God is transforming
our attention, our hearts

and we are given an opportunity
to respond to beauty

for we do not just receive beauty
(for the taking)
but we are made to reveal beauty

(for the giving)

T.S. Eliot captured an important truth
of poetry (and arguably of life):

“genuine poetry can communicate before it’s understood”

a poem doesn’t ask to be understood
because at first, that’s not what matters
it’s the encounter with a poem that matters
and the same goes for us with beauty

poetry and beauty enter the world
and are only understood
when we enter into them

but our understanding
is never complete
and our encounters
are never about endings
but beginnings

in life
we encounter love
we encounter pain
we encounter beauty
we encounter other souls

and we can also
encounter the Lover of our souls
the One our soul was made to love

our lives are full of encounters

the meaning of the word encounter
is associated with “unexpected”

to be human is to encounter
unknowns, uncertainty

we can possess a sense of expectedness
a desire to know, to have control, to have certainty

but often, our experiences are unexpected
so we pursue answers and understanding

but life is not about answers

this is why beauty is an invitation “to be still and know”
this is the same invitation of love, of poetry, of life, of God

we are invited to stillness and wonder,
to slow the heart, the soul, the mind

only when we are still
do we start to see

when we are restless and wandering,
we allow anxieties to blur and blind us

if we are not still
we cannot see
or be seen

if we are not still
we cannot know
or be known

God invites us
to stillness
so we can know
just how loved
and known we are

there was a beautiful revelation
one of the podcast hosts had:
that we are God’s poetry

what this means if we revisit T.S. Eliot’s quote:

“genuine poetry can communicate before it’s understood”

is often we will find God communicates
to us before we will understand Him

and we often find this with humanity at large
that we have the ability to communicate
before we are understood
before we are fully known

often at a first encounter
with something or someone
we start to ask questions
to see, to hear, to understand

but we place so much emphasis
on being filled with knowledge
that we may not allow ourselves
to just experience, to encounter
a person, a place, a poem

but if humanity is poetry:
we should approach each other
like we approach a poem

we cannot expect to be understood by others
on the first meeting, from a first impression

in my example earlier, the leader did not understand my poetic language
he did not see the romantic nature of a sunset
he did not understand my relationship to Beauty

i know now, that’s okay that he didn’t
i can’t judge him for his judgement

he was reading me from preconceived notions
he was reading me through his language
he was not trying to understand me
he was only listening to what i communicated
and filtered it through his own language

but when someone listens to us and is still
not interjecting with their own opinions
not overlaying judgement or assumption
but listening to hear, to see, to learn
then understanding starts to circumvent communication
there is a sense of knowing intent and heart
there is less unknowns in motivations and language

when we see each other as poems
we see each other as love letters

we should assume a blank page, a blank canvas
and approach one another without expectation
so that we can truly encounter each other
in stillness, in wonder, as we listen, and learn
allowing each other to communicate
with a desire to understand and know deeper

just as the more we dwell in a poem, the more we see
similarly, the more attention we give to one another
the deeper we will know and love each other

i cannot claim to fully comprehend yet
how this approach to beauty, to humanity, to poetry
drives how we can know and be known

but it’s a journey and i’m learning

another lens on this concept of communication
is how we apply this to the Word:

we cannot understand the world
unless we dwell in the Word

we cannot remain in the Word
unless we allow the Word to work in us

and the Word cannot work in us
unless we become doers of the Word

there is something there, right?
in the receiving, revealing, acting
in the listening, understanding, doing
like beauty, it’s not just for taking, but giving

so to finish let’s return to the feathers

and back to this particular season
where God was giving me feathers

in that season i found a new feather
it was blue and beautiful and bright

and when i saw it, for a moment, i had
wondered if it was the same feather
that i had found on the road before

has it been relocated down the road?

it was quite far afield from the first feather
so maybe it’s another feather?

maybe God really does give us
these traces of beauty
so that we can trace his beauty
and see his beauty
and fingerprints everywhere we go

sometimes i try to trace his fingerprints

i chase it
i chase
i chase

and sometimes i try to run away
from beauty and from him

to chase
other things

but he always
pursues me
and calls to me

i write this now
but since writing about the feathers
God has given me ladybirds and butterflies

you might think, he isn’t giving you beauty
he isn’t giving you those things

but the thing is, i asked him for them
i asked him to reveal beauty to me

in the book of Acts in the New Testament we are told
that there will be many signs and wonders
we are also told that many will not hear or see

my prayer is that we will dwell
dwell in this gift of Beauty

that we will not lose our wonder
or allow ourselves to wander

that we will be still, and know God

and that we will know God as Beauty
that our souls will glory in him
as the creator of all things
that all creation will cry for him

Beauty is him
Beauty calls us to him

today, may Beauty stop you
may it force you to slow down

to encounter.
to dwell.
to be still.

to know.
and be known.

to love.
and be loved.

may Beauty romance you
today and every day


Respond from the Heart