Since I was a little girl, I have been drawn by beauty. I would dress up in my grandmother's old dresses, stumble around in her much-too-large heels, and attempt to prance elegantly around her house. My hope was that in dressing in my grandmother's clothes, I would somehow gain a sliver of the beauty and poise that I saw represented in her.
I know that I am not the only little girl who spent her early years playing dress-up. And why is that? What is this seemingly inherent desire to attain beauty? Why are we so drawn to it?
According to one of my college's most beloved authors, C.S. Lewis, beauty itself is not the goal. Rather, its allure comes in what it represents, and Who it reflects. We are drawn to beauty not because of what beauty is, but Whose it is, and Who it directs our gaze to.
Beauty is found all throughout daily life: in the selfless acts of strangers, in sunrises, in flowers, in songs, in the faces of others. Yet while the location of each sliver of Beauty may differ, they all originate from the same Heart.
Of these inanimate representations of beauty, Lewis writes in his book The Weight of Glory,
"they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." (Lewis, 31).
They are echoes of something so much greater and so much more beautiful.
Lewis also makes mention of the sadness that comes after the brilliance of a sunset has faded into night. While it lasts, we view it and are awed by its raw beauty. But soon it fades, and we are left looking at the solemn tones of a darkening sky.
"We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the landscape loses the celestial light.... For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world.... We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us." (Lewis 39-40).
Lewis is describing how the beauty in nature is not intended for us, though we can certainly enjoy it. No, the sunset is Nature acting to glorify its Creator, and we are only spectators of this display of worship. We can view the sunset as it glows in hundreds of brilliant colors, but the message of beauty and exaltation was not delivered for our glory, but for His.
Having read Lewis' wise words and looking back over my years of pursuing my narrow-minded perception of beauty, I have reached a deeper appreciation for those natural displays of beauty. A friend dresses up nice, and she looks beautiful. And her beauty directs me to the One who created her, and of Whose Beauty dwells within her. A sunrise erupts with color, and I am humbled at this sight of Nature welcoming the morning by worshiping its Maker.
Beauty was never made for us, and we will not see its full extent until Jesus returns. Until then, however, we will be able to catch glimpses of it, mere reflections and echoes of it. And when we do, let us be reminded of Who it is really all for.