Believing in Beauty

how beauty helped me live through grief

After I buried my daughter, I walked into my mother’s kitchen and beheld a granite island clothed in a rainbow of fruits and vegetables for guests at the funeral reception. Their vibrancy held me captive in for a moment in those hours of pain.

Beauty Saved Me

The world will be saved by beauty.

Dostoyevsky wrote that in The Idiot.

The world will be saved by beauty.

I am tempted to buy a Dorothy Day biography titled with that quote for no other reason than that quote.

It is compelling, isn’t it?

Because we were saved by beauty.

Since the death of my daughter, I have become acutely aware of the presence of beauty around me, like angels.

Beauty’s power wraps around me as a secure anchor.

Its clarity clears the overwhelming clutter of my thoughts when they are too loud to stop.

It is the fragrant balm that soothes the age-old wounds.

Its simplicity builds space to breathe, to understand and feel that, in all my complexity, I am enough.

It draws me back from my complexity to feel the goodness of being a child of God.

God is the one, the true, the good, and the beautiful.

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Drawn to the Beauty of God

Thomas Dubay writes in The Evidential Power of Beauty:

The glory of the Lord, therefore, is the super-eminently luminous beauty of divine beyond all experience and all descriptions, all categories, a beautiful before which all earthly splendors, marvelous as they are, pale into insignificance.

If I voice aesthetic preferences, others do not understand. It is not a matter of being particular. I need beauty in order to breathe.

When I witness ugliness in the world in bad art, bad music, bad politics, or bad taste, I pull back because it is a sign the broken parts in the world still exist, and I am in one of them.

In beauty, I perceive the Divine. I perceive hope, and it feels like, somehow, everything will be okay.

Bishop Barren wrote that beauty will convert our relativistic peers because arguments of Truth will no longer speak to them. Nothing made more sense to me this year. When beauty, true beauty, is present in its elegant simplicity, I know God is near.

Beauty Bears Burdens

Beauty lifts me to the clouds away from the burdensome moment with its confusion and reminds me that the universe is expanding, there is so much more to life than what happens now.

It is the reminder that the Cross cannot last forever.

Even in suffering there is beauty, because there is Christ, the wounded Healer.

It is the reminder that the world and I can be forgiven for our deficiencies and deformities. I believed Christ when he said I was beautiful, only it was so difficult to put that belief into practice.

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How Does It Look to Believe One is Beautiful?

To treat my body with respect. More deeply, to treat my mind with kindness, my heart with compassion, and my history with mercy.

The sight of another person is more beautiful than ever because we are all beautiful messes.

“The prince says that world will be saved by beauty!” The Dostoyevsky continues, “And I maintain that the reason he has such playful ideas is that he is in love.”

Indeed, it is the Love of my youth learned through the fire of apologetics, the passion of charismatic prayer, the quiet solicitude of theological studies. Now, the love is practiced through the little way, with little time for thought, as little ones run around me.

God captivated me once more in the beauty of His creation. He opened my understanding that the world would be saved by beauty, and indeed, already has.

And that is my hope.

How has beauty helped you during times of uncertainty or suffering?

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Kathryn Anne Casey is a graduate of Divine Mercy University, former life coach, freelance writer, housewife, and mother of four children. Her weekly local newspaper articles and blog focus on art, psychology, consumerism, and the importance of local community. You can find out more about her here.

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