Monday, May 21, 2007

Of Beauty, Grace, and Wisdom

These three words I wrote on my daughters’ Mother’s Day’s cards. Words of challenge, words that call, words which speak of proportion and balance, ultimately words of hope.

I thought I would be able to explain what I had written, that in the course of that wild Mother’s Day celebration with six grandchildren blending in with our eleven children and my beloved there for the honor of the day – but somehow the moment slipped away. So, the blogosphere becomes the next best place to work through my wayward thoughts.

Of course, the kids themselves generated these thoughts. They blessed us with concert tickets to Celtic Woman, and then provided us with the funds for a very nice dinner – which we enjoyed to the maximum. There we were at the concert surrounded by exceptional beauty – my wife beside me (beauty of beauties), lovely ladies in a simple yet gorgeous set singing and playing music that expressed a veritable atmosphere of beauty. We were transported all over the world in our imaginations by the strains of those compelling melodies, rhythms and sights.

I got to thinking about how the Creator made us – male and female, and how that lines up with our experience in this world, and how that points us towards ultimately realities. You see, in His economy, nothing is ever wasted. So, if He made female and male the way He did, then He is telling us something about Himself and speaking eloquently of His message to mankind.

Women seem made to express beauty, and men seem made to notice and appreciate this beauty. I can’t say a lot about that other than to point to the observable obvious. Now in this life, I can’t say that the beauty expressed by those lovely ladies is without ugliness, nor can I say that the men who watch do so with the best of intentions. Such is the condition of this life. Nevertheless, the fact that each does what they were created to do speaks the message needing to be heard.

So my wife and I are watching these lovely ladies sing these beautiful songs, and I become aware of that sensation of watching a Watcher. I see that the way I as a man (in purity) can look at the loveliness of a woman, or of womankind, and the beauty that she produces or that comes out of the whole of womankind, and I am aware of the Watcher watching us – His redeemed – in the same way. There is an incredible delight and deep appreciation for what is coming forth, and yet there is an understanding that what is being viewed is not perfect, in fact is far from perfect. Still the delight and appreciation are not affected by the imperfect; rather there is a yearning for that which will be perfect, and a time of Perfection yet to come, and of the hope of that day.

Beauty is the earnest in Creation of the Creator’s intention to redeem. He didn’t have to build it in. He didn’t have to speak this way. But He did, and that is very significant. If He produced such beauty that may at times seem to us to be impossibly lovely, then we can believe that His tender intentions expressed in redemption are true, and that by counterpoint His predicted wrath is also true. As the opening chords of the musical piece draw one in to the “story in the music,” and the closing chords bring that same story to a close, so the twin chords of the kindness of God leading us to repentance and the wrath of God warning us of the end for those who don’t repent act as the beginning and end of His “story in the revelation.”

Which brings us to grace – for if the propositions are true, then the strength to believe and obey are there and available. Such is the nature of One Who would put impossibility before us. He does it with the beauty He lavished upon His Creation or in the beauty of a lovely lady; so also He does with this grace that infuses and strengthens, enabling the impossible for those who are called into that kind of beauty.

Why is it that some women become so much more than a pretty face and lovely figure, as though they mine the depths of a deeper beauty? Is it Grace? So men have for generations named their daughters, desiring to bless them with the call to a better loveliness. And what comes out of these women so graced if not service? It shows, oh it shows!

For beauty is used up in this world, as every woman knows – “Beauty is fleeting and charm is deceitful . . .” A woman can choose what to do with that fast fading beauty – to invest it in the service that comes into her hands, as wife and mother, or as a servant to the poor and needy, or in teaching, or nursing, and in a hundred other ways. Or she can invest in preserving her beauty, the quest for the impossible. Grace makes the difference. It is provided, but what is done with it? If received and obeyed, it leads to a better life, a life poured out. But if ignored, the fruit of that life becomes that of desperation, leading to all kinds of excesses in the name of beauty.

This reveals the heart of wisdom. Who has not marveled at the exceptional ways of a certain woman, generally older, who seems to possess that within her which is a beauty of a more compelling nature, coming from a place within her that is so deep so as not to be plumbed quickly. She seems like a fountain bringing forth waters from a deep artesian well, cool and calm, abundant and refreshing, deep and abiding. She is no longer like the garden bringing forth fruit in its season, but now she waters many gardens and helps cultivate life in a myriad of ways.

Oh, this woman is the rarest jewel of all. “Her worth is far above rubies.” Many have searched for this precious stone, but few have found her. Deep is the disappointment many feel who would seek this out, bitter the deepening gall. To find this glorious one, and to find her young, is to find a great gift.

This is the intention of the Creator in His work with His redeemed. That we should become such a wise expresser of beauty, He came and bought and died and rose. His revelation points to that which only grace can make real. And both wisdom and beauty lie at the heart of true believers – so that we might become wise so that the beauty of the One within us might be graced to flow out in service to a world searching for just such loveliness.

The eye of the Redeemer is on His beloved. His delight is on her – looking for her loveliness through grace to become service that wisdom might be evident, letting the deepest beauties flow.

So we as men and women reveal this – a living parable of an awesome relief to a fallen world, relief that ends in redemption and purity – purity like that of a bride . . .


Elise said...

Affirmation that only true beauty comes from Him. And the wisdom we all should seek, the idea that it is rooted in beauty, and beauty in it...well. Profound. (I use the proverb referring to that at my little place!)
I hear your love for our mama coming through in this piece... thank you for choosing her for us!

Anonymous said...

Oh Papa..... thank you for your kindness and your sweet, gentle words. What a blessing you are.
I do remember well the time of your heart ailments and I remember praying fervently that you would come out stronger just as my Pops had done three times previous. I thank God that you are well now, and I hope you count every day with your family as blessing.
That is one thing my sweet Pops always did. He knew he was living on 'borrowed time' and so he gave it his all. He relished every day with his wife even sending her flowers on random occasions - insisting that annivesaries were to be celebrated year-round! Can't we all learn from him.

Peace to you this day.

In Him,