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Beauty As A Chalice

Everyone across pretty much all time and cultures will agree that some things are beautiful. Everyone agrees regardless of background that beauty, as an abstract concept, exists. I think I’ve made my point that everyone says there is beauty, but have you ever tried to define it? What is beauty? What makes something beautiful? To make things more complex, if we manage to nail down something of a definition of beauty what is beautiful to us may be ugly in another time and place, and vise versa.

Beauty is a part of the human psyche; it is imbedded in our nature. Some things simply are more beautiful, such as a sunrise or a flower. Art can be a wonderful example of beauty. Some paintings take our breath away, but when we try to nail down why, a certain mystique puffs away like a cloud. I would argue that beauty is something that can both be enjoyed and points to something greater. Art can be uplifting and yet also leaves us hanging, wanting something more. We want the raising feeling to continue to lift, the pleasure of something wondrous to behold to last.

This fleetingness reflects our creation and also our brokenness. We were created by a Creator who enjoys beauty (a sunrise is not a manmade invention), thus we also would enjoy beauty. However, this image was broken in the fall when sin distorted everything. Everything is longing for the New Creation, when everything is set aright and creation will be corrected.

Thus, because of this yearning, art is like a chalice. By this I mean that art is beautiful to look at, but it ultimately points to something greater, and is meant for more. It’s designed to point to the beauty that God creates. It isn’t complete on its own despite its own beauty, and it’s meant to complement God’s creation.

What we create, the beauty created by artists fulfilling their God-given vocation of artist, helps God. Just as a nice frame compliments a quality drawing, so artists compliment Gods beauty (Am I talking about how God is wondrous to behold or the beauty that God creates? Yes). But this is more than artists; florists when they arrange flowers, gardeners when they prune their gardens, or children who pick up trash to help the environment make the world around us pleasing to the eye. This is something you and I with whatever talents and abilities we have, can do. We can all create chalices in anticipation of the hope of their filling.

Go in peace, and serve the Lord.

Aaron Buchholz
Theology & Social Studies Teacher