… news from a country we have never visited.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust them; it was not in them; it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things-the beauty, the memory of our own past-are good images of what we really desire; but it they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from the country we have never visited.”
I read that from a transcript of a speech C.S. Lewis gave in Oxford June 8th, 1942. I really fell in love with it, the way I do much of his writings – or speeches in this case. His way of looking at beauty in this life makes the beauty itself so much more fulfilling. If we understand that God is the source of all things good and all things beautiful, it will lend us a greater spiritual satisfaction with the elegance, art, and pleasantries found in this world.
We can enjoy the arts and nature on a much more deeper level than those with no One to attribute them too.
When looking at a fascinating landscape, or painting, or listening to a wonderful piece of music, we often come to the edge of what our human condition allows us to experience. We soak in all the marvelousness we can, and after that, we are still left longing; longing for “the scent of a flower we have not found.”
That must mean there is something out there that we are longing for. The same way, as Lewis points out elsewhere, that our hunger implies that there is food in existence. The reason we come to the edge of beauty and want to go further into it – the reason we almost want to become one with the artistry in front of us implies we were created to be fulfilled by a beauty, without left longing.
We were created to be fulfilled by a relationship with God; to be one with our creator. One day, when we shed these sin natures and come into full and complete fellowship with him, we will experience what it is like to be one with that beauty that he gives us now, in such small, unfulfilling doses.
I love that quote and thinking of art and nature in that way. It allows me to channel my wonder towards the right source. It allows me to cipher my awe in the correct light. When listening to a wonderful piece of music, I can thank the Lord who is the source of all things good and pleasant.
More than just touching our souls, I stroll through a museum, a reading of a poem, or a hike through the woods can become a worship experience.
When taken back at the beautiful landscape in front of me, I can transmit my amazement through thanksgiving and praise to the one who crafted the beautiful landscapes. I have no problem attributing God to all things beautiful in this world. I like that. It helps me enjoy God more. I wonder if he meant it to happen like that. I bet he did.