Week 1: Point of View
The poet Horace once wrote, "Nothing is beautiful from every point of view." To which I reply that I believe the opposite is also true - nothing is ugly from every point of view. And so begins your training, young padawan: Change your point of view. Literally.
There are an awful lot of times when we look around and take a quick mental inventory then move on. We glance over things that are familiar to us and may even miss small, unfamiliar things altogether if we're in a hurry. Sometimes the environment in which an item resides can make it seem more unattractive and not-beautiful than it really is (your cube, your overgrown backyard, your least-favorite relative's house...)
A 19th century British painter named John Constable once said," There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may - light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful." I think this is one of the most true things I've ever heard. It's all about the point of view.
Why is point of view such a big deal? Why does it matter if you think something is beautiful or not or if you have any opinion on the object either way? It does matter.
Seeing as how most of us have been raised in a Hallmark nation where we tend to cliche everything possible into greeting card-sized packages, most of us have heard once or two hundred times that beauty isn't always something you see. Funny thing is that it's true. And another funny thing is that a lot of us still don't really believe it.
Also? It's not only the "ugly" that needs its beauty found and freed. Sometimes the boring and bland are more deadly to our spirits than the flat out ugly. They don't get a second thought yet are the things we have to stare at day after day. Finding their beauty is a ginormous challenge because we have to actually see them and realize they're there before we can really look at them. I'm not sure I've actually ever heard anyone exclaim, "Holy guac, that's the most beautiful bumper sticker stuck on the most attractive lamp post in the entire city!" And yet... it has its beauty.
Sometimes it is hard to find the beauty in a dark place or an nondescript environment. But it's there. There's always something. And seeing as how we have no choice but to live in this world until we pass on into the next? What better way to live - finding the beauty in everything possible. It's a very valuable physical discipline to have because I believe it passes from your physical into your spiritual. And finding the beauty in the world around you is healing for your spirit. It's growing material for your spirit. It's comforting and energizing and life-affirming and helps you find glimpses of heaven here on earth. You get to where you can see how these bits of earthly beauty are just practice runs and you start to realize you can't wait for the day when it's the real thing.
Lastly, before I issue the grand re-opening first Faith & Art challenge I want you to realize this will be good for you. Good for your spirit and for your head. Because once you find the beauty around you? You may find it easier to find some beauty within you. You see yourself a little more like the Father sees you and a little less like the world, and your worst critic (a.k.a. you) see yourself. When you learn to forgive other things for their dirt and dings and scratches you'll find it easier to look past your own to see the character those things give you.
So here's your challenge for the week:
- Go find something not-beautiful. Something you wouldn't normally take a photo of. Bypass the butterfly and look at the ants. Don't pick the roses, check out the stump in your side yard. I don't care if it's outside, inside, new, old, whatever. Just don't pick something "pretty."
- Take a picture of it. But don't just run out and take a picture and be done with it. Take a bunch. Take them from different angles. Find its beauty. Discover the light and shape and form and capture it.
- Email the photo to me or post it to the Faith & Art Yahoo Group if you want (there is a photo album set up for challenge images.) I'm asking you to do this because if I leave it at just taking a photo, then time will get away from you. Take a picture this week. Do something with that picture. If you don't post it somehow, then at least let me know what you picked and tell me about it's beauty as best you can (see... sending me a photo would just be easier on you.)
- Take your new-found ability to "Find the Beauty in the Ugly" (thank you, Mr. Mraz) and think of someone or something that seems very not-beautiful... and find their beauty. You don't have to photograph it. But I'd love for you to put it in writing. Not necessarily for me. You can put it on a post-it and stick it to your mirror, write it on a scrap of paper and use it as a bookmark, stick it to your fridge... I don't care. But write it down. Writing it down makes it real and helps you to remember it. If you do want to tell me, feel free to leave a comment here so other people can read it or email me and I'll use it confidentially. Or post it to the Faith & Art Yahoo group.
- Pray about this. Pray that God will continue to alter your point of view to more closely resemble His. That one person that you swear is unlovable? Is loved. If for no other reason than they are a child of the Creator just as we each are.
Here is some inspiration for your point of view changes. Go forth and look at the world around you, people.
P.S. Yes. I will be doing these challenges and posting my results here right along with anyone else who wants to play along at home.