Monday, May 19, 2014

Awakening to the Beautiful

"God has made everything beautiful for its own time..." Ecclesiastes 3:11a

When I was growing up I didn't develop an appreciation for beauty of either man-made things or God-made. It just wasn't a focus in my family. It may have actually been there but I don’t recall any conversation revolving around beauty. An awareness and appreciation of beauty awakened late in me. Once a pastor and his wife came to visit us in Pakistan who were attracted to the Persian carpet stores and desired to bring a carpet home but vacillated on buying one because they thought maybe it was too extravagant a thing to do. Something awakened in me at that moment. For some reason I wondered if God wanted us to enjoy beauty or kill an appreciation for it? Suddenly I found myself urging them to buy the small carpet.

“What do you think is the most beautiful thing in the world?” I asked Fatimeh.  “Women and flowers,” she answered. I like to discuss beauty with my Muslim friends because I believe every person in the world is created to enjoy beauty, yet we can almost become oblivious to the beauty around us. When Muslims come from war zones or political unrest it seems that an awareness of beauty goes dormant. Buildings, parks, roads, infrastructure, museums, music and the arts, and homes get destroyed or damaged. It takes a long time for the beauty of man-made things to get restored. Even longer for a quiet and gentle spirit to be restored. Dwelling on bad memories or having a busy lifestyle can wipe out an awareness of beauty. We can become too busy to smell the roses. Can you imagine no beauty to enjoy? That would be hell. So, I try to draw people’s attention to beauty whether it be calligraphy, flowers, carpets, or a picture on a calendar. Often Muslim women are fearful that the evil eye of jealousy will be directed towards them if we express beauty about their children or home. Sad! Full enjoyment of beauty is inhibited if there is fear of jealousy and harm.

It is thrilling for me to have my Muslim friends read about creation and also about heaven. We talk about perfect beauty.  Fatimeh was reading the creation story and was awed by the beauty and perfection before sin entered the world. She sounded disappointed when Genesis 3 was read; especially when the beauty of male and female dynamics changed into a power play. Her expressiveness can be rather dramatic at times. Then she read about heaven from the Young Reader’s Bible story book. The last page depicted a picture of Jesus in a white robe and gold sash and crown on his head. She stared at the picture and remarked, “He is beautiful.”  “Yes, He is, Fatimeh,” I replied.  She called him a queen not remembering the word king. That made me smile. Perhaps it was the long white robe which confused her. Beauty is so mysterious and irresistibly delightful. We have a beautiful earth and a beautiful Triune God. It gives me great joy to try to describe God as He is depicted in the Bible and as I know Him personally. 

Dear heavenly Father, reawaken beauty in my friends’ lives where it has gone dormant.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.