The Defiance of Your Beauty

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Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.  -Joss Whedon

A week at our cabin, always an experience of simultaneous rest and wrestling. I aim to sit still, to be, to honor the place and notice the beauty. I confront the voices that push for productive and busy and noteworthy, while beholding the chorus of birdsong. The gentle swish of deer traipse through the yard, narrowly missing the detritus of bicycles, rafts, chairs and drying clothes. Rabbits scurry, golden doodles gallop, mosquitoes buzz, hummingbirds hover, nests get built. Dappled light punctuates the forest floor, the treed canopy offering relief from the sun’s oft-oppressive gaze. The river’s rush, consistent background noise with an occasional hoot and holler from rafters

Nature unfolds before my eyes, on hyperdrive for the shrinking summer season. My senses overtaken by the beauty of creation. I am uncomfortable, wondering with the hurt in our world, if I am avoiding the truth and heft of injustice by enjoying and filling myself, by resting and renewing.

Weighted by the nonsensical violence, I question my place, my deserving.  How can I rest when so many others suffer? How do I relieve the pain for another? Where do I even begin to offer a modicum of hope and relief, while protecting and preventing myself from sinking into despair’s darkness? Cynicism and fear try to worm in, blocking the beacons of goodness, generosity, abundance.

And yet, I stare out the window toward the forest, wondering, observing, surrendered. I witness the cottonwoods, their heavy branches laden with seed, fluffy snow lining the driveway, wafting along the breezy currents. These seeds a gentle reminder of nature’s drive to secure sustenance and beauty through the gift of creation.

In the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky: Beauty will save the world. Our hearts and minds depend upon creation, the seeing and naming of beauty. Our presence in the world relies upon bearing witness to the awe-inspiring, to the wonder-full. Our souls, our being, depend upon our creating. We need to make. The world needs us to make. We must offer our personal and unique expression borne from our witness, borne from our many questions and few answers. We must attempt to make sense by offering our honest expression, our imperfect methods, our limping souls and confused minds. We must attempt to express our deepest joys and longings through our own creation, our own beauty.

Our offering of creation, of beauty, funnels out into our worlds through writing, photography, lyrics, building, notes on a page, a letter to a friend, painting, baking, planting, telling stories, goofy antics, laughter over meals, making love, poetry, sculpture, investing in our communities, teaching, asking questions, wrestling for answers, honest conversations over coffee, long drives in the country, hiking, wandering, wondering, eating, preaching, sewing, cutting hair, waxing eyebrows, coloring with children.

Our offering of creation, of beauty will save the world. While the work of creation is heart-wrenching, it saves me, it will save you. Whether you like my offering or agree with my offering, it doesn’t matter. The creation is my gift, my act of lifting hope high, of defying the evil and carelessness and apathy. Creation is my attempt to make sense of what is around me, to see and respond to the burdens while staring them down. I defy their power by concocting the appropriate antidote. An antidote comprising love, grace, consideration, mercy, empathy, wonder.

Our offering of creation, of beauty, takes down fear, challenging the insidious and hunted mark of a victim. Our defiance demands we get to set the terms, we make the rules, moved and marked by love, moved and marked by mercy, moved and marked by compassion and empathy.

Our offering of creation, of beauty is our public service to the world, burying the evil and resurrecting the good and true. Hope.

Our offering of creation, of beauty spreads our seeds. Our job does not involve knowing how much or how far or how wide, but to trust in the ultimate Creator, knowing She alone holds the world in her palms, secure. Our faith and our trust, a reflection of doing the timeless work of hope, justice, renewal, resurrection.

And in this work, we find release, we find rest. The process outlined by Glennon Doyle Melton, following the Creator’s model:

Create! Call it Good! Rest!

I beg of you. Please. Take in the suffering, the injustice, the hurt, the goodness, the gratitude, the pain, the confusing, the questions, the nonsensical, the flabbergasting, the shocking, the remarkable, the overwhelming. Take it all in, mix it up in the unique form of your being, funnel it through the filter of you and offer your creation up and out…

…for your beauty will save the world.