Excruciating Beauty

Beauty1The past string of days have been so beautiful that I hardly know what to do with myself.

So that got me thinking, because there is a certain discomfort that comes, for me, with wondrous beauty. I think I feel unworthy of it – like it’s not possible to appreciate it enough.

Add to that the fact that it is fleeting, and a beautiful day can almost put me into a panic.  A small panic, mind you, but I am definitely challenged by all of this.

Can I simply relax and appreciate beauty? Now there’s a good question for JordanCornblog!

Beauty2I think my problem is that I approach beauty as a consumer – as if it is a thing that I somehow need to take in.  But there is far too much of it on days like we’ve recently had … and I don’t know where to put it.

I race around, taking photos as the light moves and changes.  I look and look and look.

It’s disappearing, even as I try to capture it.

And I absolutely know that this isn’t really capturing anything … and in fact, I am missing the beauty, peeking at it through a camera lens.

It brings to mind Martin Buber – and I think I should probably read I and Thou again (but I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t … unless it’s available for Kindle … ;-))

Beauty3Consuming beauty makes it into an “It” in Buber’s terms … I am the subject and beauty is the object.  It is not satisfying. And it is the way of the world.

The other way – the more satisfactory and meaningful way (IMHO) that Buber proposes is to relate to the world as a “Thou.”  I am the subject (I) and beauty is also the subject (Thou) – and that changes the interaction entirely.

Beauty isn’t something that I use or consume … it stands on its own and I stand in relation to it.

Beauty isn’t an object of my personal experience – it is separate and complete. It doesn’t need me to see and appreciate it.  It just is.

I can’t quite wrap my head around this, but it feels important to me. I interact with beauty.  I accept it gratefully and am not responsible for it and can’t hold it or let it go.  I open to it and it gives itself to me, somehow.  The more permeable I let myself be the more I can feel it.

Excruciating beauty, terrifying beauty.  To fully experience the I and Thou-ness of life it seems we have to let ourselves be open and permeable while also letting in the bottom-line separateness of everything and the kind-of-ultimately-challenging fact that we are not the center of the universe.

Doing all of that … I think … somehow opens the door to a level of relatedness and connection that is the stuff of mystical ecstasy.

So that’s what I think today … that and the fact that the Eagles are going to shock the Broncos this afternoon!

Oh … and I and Thou actually is available for the Kindle.


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