Sunday, 16 November 2014

Vicar's Sofa – What is Beauty?

When I was studying for my Masters in Marine Biology up in Aberdeen we were asked as a class to fill out a personality test as part of our careers guidance. We were tested on our values leading to three ultimate values being identified and, presumably, our ideal career would emerge. Most people came out with things that you would expect from a bunch of science graduates around measuring the world, attention to detail and so on. My number one passion came up as 'ascetic beauty'. I got a few weird looks.

But beauty has always been really important to me. Not really in the sense of perusing physical beauty (though to me make up has always been art and where better to make art that on your own face?!) but in that the experience of perceiving beauty has always been one that has drawn me to consider a deeper reality than what is right in front of me. Beauty for me has always been a sign post, an emotional guide mark, towards this deeper reality. What makes us find something compelling and wonderful? What makes us feel grateful in front of a gorgeous sunset or a best friend's smile? What is it in us that renders us speechless before nature or makes us consider something beautiful at all?

I am attending a church at the moment that has me utterly spellbound by the beauty of the services. There are many aspects of it that I can point to for the root of this. The music is spectacular with a full and hugely talented choir. There is definitely something in that, the beauty of human voices combining in a way that transcends anything a single voice could do. Or perhaps it is that the services are beautifully crafted, the words deep and rich, drawn from the prayers and praises of people down the ages. Or perhaps it is the sermons, their passion and integrity.

But none of those elements really sum up the beauty of it. Like any experience of beauty it is hard to put your finger on what is drawing you in. I just know that I love it and that it transports me somewhere new and wonderful. That it grips me somewhere that my head can't really understand. Perhaps that is what beauty is, then. An experience that hints at and reminds us of our depth and complexity as human beings. Bringing us back to the deep tug in our human nature towards everything that is good and pure and right. That, I guess, is why beauty means so much to me and why noticing it and celebrating it is an important part of who I am.

How about you? What do you think? What is beauty?

No comments:

Post a Comment