I’ve been craving beauty since the day I was born. There are weeks, like this one, where the hunger is deeper and greater than others, where the longing is more acute and harder to ignore, but it’s always been there. I want sunsets and thriving gardens and people who are open-handed with what they own. I long for redemptive stories, I want to listen to truth-telling music, I read words like these, over and over, wondering how to live them. If we all feel this longing, like I think we all do, then it’s probably true we feel it in different forms: I, in the ways above, or in making a meal, seeing vegetables turned to withered stalks of dinner, covered in blistered almonds and bits of garlic—order out of chaos. You, in ways peculiar to you. Does the look of a fresh vegetable, like a simple asparagus stalk, ever take your breath away? It does mine. Sometimes it hits that part of my heart that is ever longing, ever thirsting for something that I know to want and yet don’t know why. And then I read words like these in a library book:
“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For 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.” C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
These beauties—these real and ever-present beauties in a world of pain and suffering, of babies dying and people being attacked and broken people breaking each other over and over again—are real beauties, gifts that point to another world, one that is not like this one we know. Yet they are just glimpses. Tiny glimpses. Glimpses I am looking at but sometimes, glory!, looking through—to the greater echo, greater flower, greater country that’s to come.