Beauty and the Beasts

The other night, as I drove on some errand, I was flanked by a molten sunset. Each time I surveyed the sky, the palette shifted. The textures of the clouds created a rich surface, refracting light with that tenderness sunsets have.

I was caught still.

Something in me sang. I was drawn in. I needed to capture, to remember, to register this moment in whatever creates memory.

But, why? It was nothing more than light. The inconsequential rays of a relentless star beating down upon our pale blue dot. It was nothing more than a chance intersection of water molecules and light and my vantage point. Nothing more than atoms and energy. Et cetera. If so, then what made me stop in my frantic, suburban tracks?

The beauty, of course.

Do the beasts perceive beauty? Do the wild things drink in the setting sun? Can they? What utility is offered by beauty? What survival benefit is granted through breathtaking aesthetic?

There be none. Let us be frank: beauty is superfluous for survival. Argue away with your evolutionary arguments – their ingenuity is matched only by the spectacular thudding sound they make as they fall to the floor of my heart.

Beauty has no utility. Not like that. Beauty has meaning (as I’ve argued elsewhere). And that is an entirely different matter. Utility and survival have their respective eyes fixed on the concrete and finite. The kind of beauty I felt when accosted by that sunset whispered a transcendent word. Transcendence is useless to survival; it is essential for meaning.

Do the beasts see beauty? Probably not. So why do we?

We were made to, that’s why. Made with meaning. Made for meaning. Not to survive; but to live. To delight. To glory.

So next time you feel the ache of inexpressible beauty, heed it. Listen close to its echoing whisper and remember that you are no beast. You were meant to stand slack-jawed and pinned in your boots, captured by beauty. And to stretch in joyous glory toward Him from whence it came.


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