Thursday, September 13, 2018
In Anthony Ray Hinton's book The Sun Still Shines, he describes the 30 years he spent on death row for a crime he didn't commit. His story is heartwrenching and moving and I highly recommend reading it, but one of the things I've been pondering was what he briefly mentioned about his visits with his mother. Of the two sets of prison clothes Anthony was issued, he wore one set daily but the other set he folded carefully and set aside for visiting day so that on the day his mama and his best friend Lester visited, he could look his very best. It was a very small thing, but it was something Anthony could do to comfort his mom. It's a principle I've come to understand. Or maybe it's a theory. But this is it: beauty comforts. Even if it's just your best set of prison whites and a smile.
It's why floral arrangements fill funeral homes. It's why mamas sing lullabies to their crying babies. It's why the sight of a football player or celebrity at a pediatric cancer unit makes us tear up- we know that this is right and good. People who can make a beautiful football pass or sing a beautiful song or make a beautiful movie- these people coming to be with us in our suffering- this comforts. That's not to say that the presence of beauty just makes us feel better, but it can also bolster our strength and sensibilities and actually make us stronger in the midst of the sufferings we encounter. All beauty points to the God of all comfort, the One who is always with us. It reminds us of the very presence and care of God.
It's like the rainbow I captured on the way to a funeral- God's comfort in our storms.
These glimpses of Presence and Beauty don't make our sufferings completely dissipate and they don't give us all the answers. But it gives us enough of a hint to make it through if we can receive it.
It's why Paul tells us that "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Philippians 4:8
There are some flowers just starting to wilt on my coffee table. A friend remembers me every year on September 7th- the due date for what would have been my fourth baby had I not miscarried. The flowers were beautiful but they don't hold a candle to her the beauty of her thoughtfulness and her love and her presence in my life.
May we all be that kind of beauty-bearing person in a dark and suffering world.