Beauty has been bumping into me for weeks. The great Joseph Campbell spoke of ‘serendipity’ so often, that great accident of time where something happens at the right time for the right reason, so magically that it feels like angelic presence. As a younger person, and particularly as a child of the very religious Southern United States, in particular, as a child of Presbyterian austerity and frugalism, the idea of beauty as an essential element of my life felt a bit indulgent. But I longed for beauty, felt soothed by beauty, and sought her anyway, hungry for this food for my spirit.
As an older wiser woman, and artist, I now find the confirmation everywhere. For the last few days I have been enjoying roaring bonfires, outside, at my beloved Edisto Island. On New Year’s Eve a few days ago, the clear cold sky opened up to reveal a full and brilliant moon, a blue moon, one of two this month, so rare and special, and as I watched that bright sphere traveled over the night sky, with the dance and crackle of the orange red flames before me, I could only watch in awe of this wonder: cold and hot, red orange and deep blues, and light, light, light, sparkling from the heavens and beneath my feet. I could hear the ocean from my seat there in that cool clear moment, and then, next day, I opened to these words by Saint Augustine :
I asked the earth,
I asked the sea and the deeps,
among the living animals,
the things that creep.
I asked the winds that blow,
I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars,
and to all things that stand at the doors of my flesh
My question was the gaze I turned to them.
Their answer was beauty.