Monday, February 10, 2014

Wired for Beauty

By Dorothy Greco

For more than fifteen years, my family lived in the midst of a claustrophobic, somewhat neglected section of Boston. We had to navigate idling buses spewing their toxic fumes and idling drunken men-often spewing toxins of another sort. Depending on what time we left the house, it could take nearly thirty minutes to travel the two miles across town. The neighborhood was the antithesis of everything my soul craved.

An arboretum within walking distance of our home served as my spiritual life-line during this season. There was a small knoll, surrounded by towering pine trees and overlooking a creek. I claimed this spot as my personal chapel. Whether I was praying, reading, or simply being, the beauty of this place became like manna which fed and sustained me.

Though not everyone is wired to find God in nature as I do, we are all designed to recognize and respond to the sacred call of beauty. Mystic Simone Weil wrote, "God uses beauty to captivate the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul. It constitutes another way in which the divine reality behind the world invades our lives."This invasion creates a longing that can only be satisfied as we pass through beauty to the One who made us.

C. S. Lewis referred to beauty as a doorway which invites us into the presence of God. The doorway itself might be artfully carved from brightly burnished mahogany, but if we worship the door rather than walking through it, we will have missed the door's true purpose.

Similarly, if we allow beauty to satisfy our flesh but not penetrate our souls and motivate us to action, we've missed the deeper meaning. Sacred beauty unequivocally validates God's existence (Romans 1:20) and woos us like a lover, but
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it's also meant to inspire both worship and creativity. For as we respond to our lover's initiative by planting flowers, making photographs, setting a bountiful table, or raising our voices in song, we actually partner with God to reveal his glory on the earth. In a world which seems to grow increasingly harsh and desperate, I need the gift that beauty offers. I think we
all do.

The flower photograph above is one of Dorothy Littell Greco's creations. Dorothy now lives among towering pines outside of Boston. She writes, makes photographs, and walks alongside of men and women who want more in their relationship with God. You can find more of her work at or by following her on FB ( and twitter (@dorothygreco).

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