What a blast of beauty is the 5 Ferries Challenge. Around 90 miles cycling, it takes you from Irvine – Ardrossan – Brodick – Lochranza – Claonaig – Tarbert – Portavadie – Colintraive – Rhubodach – Rothesay – Wemyss-Bay and back to Irvine within the same day (a little puggled) carting you through glorious Scottish scenery (I actually prefer doing it anti-clockwise). Surfacing porpoises, diving cormorants, sun-bathing buzzards, Arran’s peaks from all angles, the Paps of Jura, and the Kyles of Bute are just some of the highlghts. We even had time to climb Rothesay’s Lombard Street (Serpentine) and take in views from Canada Hill. What a beautiful part of the world we live in! Our Indian summer gave Ross and I almost perfect cycling conditions, leaving Irvine at 6am, home by 5.15pm. The sun lit up the glorious colours of early autumn in spectacular fashion, deepening soul appreciation for the great Imagineer & Artist behind it all.
How important is ‘beauty’ to your living & wellbeing? I don’t see it as a luxury to living, rather a necessity for human survival, soul sanity & maturity. Atheists, Agnostics & God Believers can all recognise the need for beauty. It may be ‘in the eye of the beholder’ but it can take us to the ‘edge of a greater glory’, to the fringes of faith and into the deep joy of personally and intimately knowing your Maker. Beauty can be seen as an end in itself, “Wow that’s beautiful!” It can also draw us to enquire who is behind such beauty & what inspired their art. In view of a sensational sunset or tree fired with vivid leaves, souls are woken to a spiritual dimension beyond what simply meets the eye.
Simple living people, from a faraway island, visited UK families, and were struck by the amount of clutter in our homes. To their eye ornaments, knick-knacks, paintings & pictures were ‘dust magnets’ creating unnecessary work. Are we in danger of burying ourselves in bland and bling? Encouraging simpler living someone said, “If it’s not beautiful or useful, chuck it.” This might lead to binning moody teenagers, so perhaps not the best maxim to live by, but it’s a helpful challenge to my hoarding tendencies.
I believe God sees a redeemable beauty in every single one of us; so, he comes in Jesus, to re-join us with his beauty & glory. “You’re beautiful!” is maybe not what blokes long (or like) to hear, “You’re glorious!” is perhaps more palatable. In the Bible, Eugene Peterson often translates ‘glory’ & ‘good’ for ‘beauty’:
‘God made the heavens— Royal splendor radiates from him, a powerful beauty sets him apart.’ (Psalm 96:5-6 – MSG) “For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.” (Psalm 100:5 – MSG)
A well-known Christian creed confesses the main aim of humans, ‘to glorify God & enjoy him forever’. St Paul describes a life lit by God’s Spirit as one transformed from one degree of glory (inner soul beauty) to the next. It’s a beauty which not all recognize, but one I thoroughly appreciate in others. ‘Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness & self-control’ are some reflections of this beauty.’ Can we really live well without it?