“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly 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.” C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
A Saturday night in the middle of summer, and I was at home working upstairs. My little girl was with her dad, so it was just me and my two Labs. My desk showed evidence of an impending article deadline: pages of research, paper clips, several uncapped pens, and a glass of water that needed refilling.
My office windows faced the street, and from my desk chair, I had a great view of the sky. As I paused to come up with just the right word, I looked out the window. And I saw the beginnings of a masterpiece.
Grabbing my sandals, I ran down the stairs, rousing the dogs from their pre-bedtime nap, and flew out the front door. Cutting across the yard, I kept my eyes trained on the sky as the pinks and oranges gradually grew more vivid. Excited, I looked around to see if any of my neighbors were outside too, but I was the only one watching the wonder unfold. It was a gift for me.
Glancing down at my arms, I was surprised by what I saw: the light from the beauty above had covered me in pink. It was like being in a waterfall with no water, only color.
And in that moment, I worshipped—not the sky or the sunset but the one who created them. God’s presence with me under his handiwork brought me great comfort, and the beauty filled me with both joy and a longing for more.
Awake, My Soul
That sunset is one of the highlights of a difficult time in my life. My marriage had ended, and I was now a single mom of a preschooler. During those dark days, God used many things to bring me light, starting with himself and scripture. In addition, my daughter filled my days with life, laughter, and fun. Family and friends stepped in and loved me with words and actions. My dogs adored us and protected us by barking at every visitor with great enthusiasm.
During that time, I read a book entitled Awake My Soul by Timothy Jones. I realized that in the years before the divorce, I’d been lulled into drifting through life, especially as a new mom, moving from one thing to the next and just looking forward to a whole night’s sleep.
It took the shock of my life turning upside down to be reawakened, to be reminded of what I already knew as a follower of Jesus: that there is more to this life than what we see. Life is filled with meaning and purpose, and our longing for these and other things like beauty, goodness, and truth, find their fulfillment in him.
So I asked an artist friend to climb a ladder up to the ceiling in my room and paint the words “Awake, my soul” over my bed. Every morning when I opened my eyes, I’d see that spiritual reminder to help me guard against being lulled to sleep again.
As I woke again to God’s goodness and presence in my life and began to heal, the sun came out. I began to see and respond to the beauty around me, starting with my neighbor’s crabapple tree and the bright yellow jessamine vine climbing on my mailbox.
I sought out beauty in art museums, the symphony, and the theater. Books like C. S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy and The Weight of Glory and Ken Gire’s Windows of the Soul affirmed and spurred me on.
A few years later, I met a man who also appreciated beauty, art, theater, the symphony, and C. S. Lewis. Most important, he loved Jesus, and he loved my daughter and me. We married a year later.
I’ve been writing about beauty now for years, most recently on my blog at glimsen.net, where I share glimpses of the beauty around us in nature, the arts, and the unexpected. When I tell people about my blog, most of them look puzzled. Why beauty?
And I think about that summer night when a sunset covered me in beauty … and I begin to tell them.
Freelance writer, speaker, and blogger LeAnne Martin looks for the beauty around us and encourages others to do the same. Through her words and pictures, she shares glimpses of beauty in nature, the arts, and the unexpected on her blog, Glimsen. Sign up to receive her weekly posts, and you’ll get a free gift of beauty in your inbox. You can also connect with LeAnne on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. LeAnne lives with her husband in a wooded neighborhood outside Atlanta and looks forward to her next FaceTime with her daughter in college.