Ten Things I Think About Beauty

1. I Think Beauty Matters

a. It matters in your work because beauty, when you encounter it, makes you feel something. If I strive to be beautiful in how I work; if I strive to produce the beautiful; if I strive to communicate the beautiful in what I say and how I live and how I treat others, then they might catch a glimpse of that something else that only comes from God. 

b. I think beauty matters in your family because beauty not only is deep and many sided but so is your sister, your brother, your mother, your father. When we cast one another down, when we belittle our achievements, when we don't stand with one another we hobble one another's beauty. We reduce it to a one-dimensional surface quality. 

What makes you beautiful is all of you. 

c. It is the all of you because beauty is an all-enveloping quality that connects you and I to goodness, a goodness that points to the truth of who we are (our being). 

d. When you live ashamed, you reduce yourself to a one-dimensional person. And you're not. You've been bought out of the one dimension and made new--a beautiful you, wholly good, and altogether true. Unforgiveness is the lie of the ugly. Don't let it define you. 

2. I Think Our Culture Yearns For True Beauty

a. Why else would it focus so much on "form?" 

b. We are the image society--the iconic today of the great forever. We're all reaching towards eternity but think what we see is what we get.

We praise the great films because they make us feel: wonder, anger, need, love, peace, happiness, joy, and on and on.

We sing the great songs because somehow they carry us into to tomorrow, and the next day.

We praise the beautiful women, and men, among us, because as we decay and grow more like dust they remind us of youth and vigor and the harmony of form. 

c. But we are the culture of the idol. We are the image society turned to idolaters. We bastardize the beautiful forms, making them the thing we crave. 

d. But our craving never ends. it continues, in to forever. Why else do we become addicts--because we desire the desire, and that kind of desire will never be satisfied.  

e. Why else does the world shout the lyrics to "Where The Streets Have No Name?" Because we all, in some form or other, realize that when Bono says "I want to run, I want to hide, I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside," he sings for us all. 

f. I want to feel sunlight in my face, don't you? 

3. I Think You Should Never Neglect Cultivating Beauty In The Home

a. My wife is always looking for "little things" to beautify the house, to make it feel like home. When we first arrived in Oxford, our house was bare. We didn't want to buy a bunch of decorations because it's only a temporary living arrangement. 

But we made some strategic little buys that made the space feel like more than a cold house. It's always who's in the house that makes it a home. But never underestimate the little somethings of beauty that give the house a presence of joy--a haven of rest. 

b. So much of beauty falls into joy. And by joy I mean that aspect of pleasure that makes your heart soar. And we make every effort to create and nurture heart-soaring times in this beautiful little British home. There is laughter, shouting, running, play and plenty of hugging and kissing: beautiful. 

4. I Think This Is What I Think About My Three Girls Being Pretty

5. I Think These Are The Essentials To Understanding/Obtaining Beauty

a. Love for God

b. Love for one another

c. Love for the world

d. In that order

e. Permission to feel deeply

f. The guts to rebel if you need to 

g. A healthy bit of fear

h. A thirst for wonder

6. I Think We The Church Abuse Beauty, And It Shows

a. I think too much "functionality" diminishes beauty. 

b. I Think the church is great at hobbling beauty, which is quite sad. Western pragmatism has taken over. Excellence has added to the idolatry of "making it work and function well" and we, therefore, strip out the awe and wonder and natural wildness of the beautiful. 

c. Just because you perform with excellence doesn't make that performance beautiful. 

d. I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for excellence in this life. I'm simply saying that we emphasize it too much and have made it the way of things; a justifier for church programs that have no business in the Family of God. 

e. When pragmatism replaces beauty you end up with programs focused on the one performing, the person leading and that leads to abuse of power. And there is no beauty in that, at all. 

7. I Think The Profane Has No Place In The Beautiful

8. I Think Everyone Should Learn The Beauty of Dilly-Dally

a. I once taught a High School youth group the Theology of Dilly-Dally. And by "Theology of" I really meant "beauty of" ... after all, they are synonymous. 

b. I found these young people had forgotten how to, or had never been taught to, just "be." 

c. So, where do you dilly-dally most? Around a camp fire. I, subsequently, built a camp fire on the church grounds, bought some s'more ingredients and taught them how to roast a marshmallow, eat a s'more and just really do nothing in particular except be together with their friends. 

No agenda. No this or that. Just be. And, it was beautiful. 

9. I Think The Beautiful Thing About Beauty Is It's Composition

a. It takes a million little things to make a beautiful whole. 

b. And the beautiful thing about that is that each little thing is also beautiful. 

c. Every little thing matters. And when I say little things, I mean you and me. We add to the wonder of this world. You add to me, and I to you. 

This is why collaboration can be beautiful. Because when you and I add to one another, stars collide and we all know what happens then: star dust, all over the place. Which, as we all know, is quite beautiful. 

10. I Think These Are Good Beauty Quotes By C.S. Lewis

a. She stood, an image lost as soon as seen, like beauty in a vision half-caught between two aimless long-lumbering dreams of night. --"Infatuation" (a poem)

b. The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing--to reach the mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from. --Till We Have Faces

c. Now, if we are made for heaven the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object. And this, I think, is just what we find. --"The Weight of Glory"

d. Remember he is the artist and you are only the picture. You can't see it. So quietly submit to be painted--i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quiet well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it along. You are in the right way. Walk--don't keep on looking at it. --The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vol. III

Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.