A few weeks ago when reading one of my favourite blogs of the moment, I came across the phrase "redemptive beauty". Ann Voskamp talks about finding beauty, you can read her great post and see some fabulous photos here. She starts her post with this quote:
"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely." Louisa May Alcott.
I am familiar with phrases such as - "something good will come out of this", phrases that when you are hurting often feel very trite. However I have found the experience of looking at physical objects that do not have any obvious beauty, has brought me amazing peace. We had a bit of a storm a few weeks ago and as a result my husband cut down the last of the children's sunflowers so that it didn't get wrecked outside and we could at least enjoy its last days in our home.
This has become the focus and reminder of "redemptive beauty", as you will see it is looking rather sorry for itself now:
However when I look at this, I can marvel at Gods creation. Now that the petals are starting to fall I can see with greater clarity the new seeds which are still growing and drying in the flowers heart. This is surely redemptive beauty, a beauty that is willing to pass on it's looks, to sacrifice it's very being in order to produce seed, new seeds that can be planted.
Seeing this process makes me feel willing to wade through all the rubbish that I am surrounded by at the moment. Every time I glance at this I am reminded of the redemptive beauty of the Cross. This brings me to a place of unending gratitude. This is where I need to come when I feel the rubbish around me closing in. I am free, I have been made a new creation, I am with my Father in Heaven for all of eternity, only because of the the ugliness that Jesus went through for me.
That does not mean that I can take down my guard though. I woke up in the night last night (not an unusual thing at the moment), I felt compelled to pray the Lords Prayer. So I started, and re-started and felt absolutely devastated to suddenly realise that I could not remember it all, odd lines kept swimming around in my head but not the whole thing. Fortunately I keep a bible next to my bed, and inside this particular one I have a beautiful sheet which expresses the Lords Prayer through sign language. My little reading torch came on and I read it over and over again, in my minds eye doing all the actions, until at last I could close my eyes and recite it once again. I can often be awake for hours, mulling over all the rubbish that surrounds me, on this occasion though I was able to close my eyes and drift off back to sleep in the complete comfort of this prayer.
So my guard is still up, my sunflower is still drooping, but I think it will stay there just a little longer while the rubbish around me still lingers and I will continue to ponder on "redemptive beauty" some more.