I recently listened to an interview Krista Tippet did with Yo Yo Ma. You can read the transcript or listen to it by clicking here.
And when asked about beauty, Mr. Ma said, "I can't say the word beauty without also equating it with the word transcendence, because it seems like there are so many different things that are beautiful to so many different people. But I think beauty is often an encapsulation of a lot of different things in a certain moment, a frame, let's say. It could be music. It could be a poem. It could be an event. It could be in nature, and often, possibly most often, in nature. But, when that encapsulated form is received, there's a moment of reception and cognition of the thing that is, in some ways, startling."
Perhaps one of the reasons why we don't talk about beauty is that it is so startling...even unsettling.
Beauty won't be confined to words...or if it will sit still long enough for our human expression it is usually a poem...or song...or painting. All of which are fleeting and fading. Even nature itself is constantly changing...so that what we experience on one hiking trail in NC in June...will be different even if we walk that same trail one day later. It changes...we change.
Perhaps one of the reasons why we don't talk about beauty is because it is vulnerable....it will reveal something deep within us.
If I tell you I love the music of Yo Yo Ma (which I do)...maybe you will say, "Oh, I don't like classical music." And then, what? Do I feel defensive? Do I feel un-validated? Do I feel distant now from you because we have pointed out a difference? Or perhaps so much more.
Perhaps one of the reasons why we don't talk about beauty is because we don't want to sound like someone who is unaware of the brokenness.
Yet, when we are able to hold the both/and of life, that is where the growth is. Life is not a balance sheet. God is not some divine accountant keeping score. Yet, the human mind tends to be that way. As Quinn Caldwell recently pointed out, "Social scientists call it "moral licensing." Here's how it works: I do a good, ethical thing—give money to a guy in need on the street, say. Having done that, I wind up giving myself license to act worse in the future, worse even than I might have if I hadn't done the good thing in the first place—I'm downright rude to the next person who asks me for money. I've already proven how kind and generous I am; I don't need to keep working so hard at it."
To step into the flow of life is to realize that beauty and brokenness always co-exist and the human experience is one to be open/impacted/embrace and encounter both...for it is in both where the traces of God's grace are found.