What is beauty?

I recently spent two weeks learning from the incredible Laura Smit (she has definitely been added to my list of heroes) about the theology of beauty. Over the next few weeks i will attempt to process some of my thoughts and musings here so that you can help me shed more light on this phenomenal topic. today’s entry is a light introduction into a number of questions that are often keeping me awake at night.

What is beauty? It is tempting to think there is no answer to this question. We believe that beauty is undefinable because it appears to be subjective. What you may call beautiful i may not. Take for example my crazy potter friend who has been moved to tears at a mere picture of a pot (true story i promise!) never mind the real thing. That picture did not make me cry. it barely caught my attention. In this case it seems that beauty really is ‘‘in the eye of the beholder’. But is that the truth? Here’s something my favourite potter friend has done for me – she has taught me to love pots. There was a time that i would have walked around life and barely noticed ceramics. But now i am unable to avoid noticing! everything ceramic catches my eye, i find myself drawn to touch these pieces of art, i am compelled to turn them upside down and look at it’s finish. I appreciate the texture, the colours the impressions of the artists fingers on the clay. I say to myself ‘that is so beautiful’. (maybe not enough to make me cry though!). How did this change happen? I didn’t just flick a switch inside my brain, rather as i watched her love pots she has pointed me to the beauty that was there all along which i had been looking past.

Beauty is not subjective. It is real. It is present. The question is do we see it? Do we perceive it? When i fail to see beauty in something it is just that. I fail to see it. It is not that the beauty isn’t there. If this is true (which i believe it is) then the gift of community is that other people help us see beauty where we cannot yet perceive it. We are all so unique with our own God given gifts and passions that make it easy for us to see beauty in those places. The biologist sees a pattern of cells and finds it stunning. I don’t know why but i want to and he can help me see it so that i too can share a little bit in this beauty that glorifies God who is Beauty himself. We must look and see, and help each other see, that we may join in worship as we acknowledge and enjoy the presence of God in this world.

Beauty: a quality of being percieved.  The perceptibality of a things truth or goodness. (Smit or someone she quoted and i didn’t write down;)

Explore posts in the same categories: mini series on beauty

3 Comments on “What is beauty?”

  1. meinmysmallcorner Says:

    A resounding ‘AMEN’. Great post… Looking forward to chatting about it all more. I made a list this morning of posts I want to write and ‘beauty’ was on it… You can help me think it out loud!

  2. Rach B Says:

    I find beauty so powerful and overwhelming – it connects me to the heart of God. I agree – beauty is everywhere and is found in the moments of everyday life, if we only care to look. In the words of the artist Jean Arp, ‘…a broken twig is as beautiful and as important as the stars.’

    When we are captured by the beauty of a piece of art both in its making and its use (e.g. a pot) it will enrich our lives.

    Thanks for seeing beauty in what I love. X

  3. YAA Adding this to my bookmarks. Thank You

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