GRIEF AND BEAUTY
Series: Recovering Desire
Sometimes I feel sad at the end of a day. It is usually in what I call “the orange part of the day”. On those warm summer evenings when the sun is setting and casts the whole landscape into an orange glow. It is beautiful. I love that time of the day, but it makes me sad at the same time. I think it is because it also means that the day is almost gone. The beauty of this moment also signifies that the sun will soon escape over the horizon and the light will diminish into darkness once again.
Desire is often like this. It elicits both grief and beauty. It is a very uncomfortably intriguing feeling. It is a strange elixir of desperate hope and a fierce ache. Like knowing something wonderful is just over the next hill, but when you reach the summit this wonderful thing has alluded you once again. Greg Boyd writes in his book Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty, “The best word in any language that captures this vague, unquenchable yearning, according to C. S. Lewis and other writers, is the German word Sehnsucht (pronounced “zane-zookt”). It’s an unusual word that is hard to translate, for it expresses a deep longing or craving for something that you can’t quite identify and that always feels just out of reach.” Wow. Haven’t you felt this before? It is exquisitely painful.
Photo by Natalie Breeze on Unsplash
I remember years ago John Eldredge said, “Everyday we must find beauty and everyday we must grieve loss.” I very distinctly remember my reaction. I very much agreed with the part about finding beauty, although felt like I didn’t really know how to do this. I very much disliked the part about grieving everyday. That sounds terrible. Why would anyone want to do that? What I found over the years is that those two things are very connected. Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin. Beauty often leads to grieving and grieving often leads to beauty. They are both two parts of the same process. What is this process? The process to heal and be whole again.
Of course, what I am suggesting is uncomfortable. Pain is painful and no one wants to feel pain. Beauty makes us feel vulnerable and somewhat out of control. But some discomfort is worth it. If we could honor our pain we would become more open to the beauty of life. And if we could honor beauty we would heal more pain in our lives.
To honor beauty or pain is not to diminish the other, but serves to balance out our perception of reality.
Train desire by learning to honor both grief and beauty