By Jim Tune
A few of my friends have been participating in a project called “Days of Gratitude.” In an effort to be mindful of their blessings, each day they record, usually on social media, something for which they are grateful. It’s a useful exercise, and some have said the daily habit is having a positive effect on their disposition.
On Canadian Thanksgiving (yes, Canadians have their own annual holiday on the second Monday of October), I decided to do something similar. My journey was to recognize and appreciate something beautiful every day for 30 days. I confess that this does not come naturally for me. I easily slip into an almost chronically distracted state of being. My preoccupied state of mind doesn’t allow for times of quiet reflection.
As I began my 30 days, I also entered into a 5-day social media fast. No Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The ugly bombardment of pre-election rhetoric may have had something to do with the timing of this. Visits to social media were heightening my sense of anxiety . . . my soul “disquieted within me.” Here are some observations from my “Days of Beauty”:
Beauty is everywhere! It’s in the sky. It’s in the leaves under my feet and in the barrenness of wind-stripped, winter-ready trees in my backyard. I picked up a perfectly formed maple leaf scorched with reds and oranges and rich yellows. It was no bigger than a quarter. I brought it home to my wife. More beauty. Tears rise as I think of the beauty she brings to my life.
My soul needs beauty. In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis writes: “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can barely be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” This is why I want to know Christ.
I’ve given much of my life to learning and knowing about Christ. But I deny myself beauty unless I participate in his. Everything about Jesus is beautiful. The mystery of his incarnation, his life, his grace, even his death, and certainly his resurrection, are all incalculably beautiful. When I go to the Bible seeking information about Jesus, I come away informed; when I seek his beauty, I come away transformed. Enchanted.
Beauty wins souls. The gospel is a beautiful story. It’s good news. Too frequently we present it as a barren set of facts or an equation to follow, or worse, a debate to be won. What if we told of its beauty? What if we lived and moved through this world exemplifying beauty and grace? Instead of protest and argument, what if Christians determined to enchant a weary world with the beauty of the gospel?