Seeking Beauty

Spring always catches me by surprise. I'm deep into my trudging mode, bearing patiently the good, the bad and the ugly of winter. And just when I'm subconsciously preparing to live the rest of my life in a drab world of browns and grays, it happens. Bright color catches my eye.

It might be tiny hepatica flowers, peeking through leaf litter. Or a crocus emerging from last year's tired mulch. Spring starts small. But soon, I'm surrounded by splashes of riotous hues: pinks, purples, and vibrant yellows all set against that pervasive, energetic green. I must admit, it always startles me. I forget how beautiful the world can be.

This year, spring has caused me to think deeper about beauty. What things do I consider beautiful? And how often do I come in contact with lovely things? I have come to the conclusion that beauty in my life is often buried, like that hepatica, under layers of other things. Soccer schedules. Grocery lists. Constant driving back and forth on bland streets. It's that trudging thing.

Ask yourself the question: how often do you and your child see something beautiful? And has it just been a passing glimpse, or did you stop to soak it in? Our souls and minds are thirsty for beauty, especially as our lives get busier and confine us more and more.

Here are some ideas for increasing loveliness in your family's life.

Make a Beauty Inventory. At dinner one night, ask each family member to name a few of the most beautiful things he or she has ever seen. That can be the All-time List. But then discuss what is beautiful in their regular, day-to-day lives.

Sample some artwork. My daughter's Beauty Inventory included, “That guy who painted water lilies.” She couldn't think of Monet's name, but she remembered the images. Get some books of paintings out of your local library, or better yet, visit an art museum.

Spend time in nature. Go camping, visit a park, or walk through a neighbor's garden. Wherever you go, take it slow. Soak in the view. Bathe in the colors.

Do yourself a favor: find time to seek out something beautiful. There's always time later for trudging.

Bruce Van Patter

all material ©2006 Bruce Van Patter