Friday, May 12, 2017

Reawakened by Beauty

Imagine seventeen high school students performing the musical score of Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland.  The majestic introduction by the trumpets and French horn is followed by the powerful echo of the timpani and bass drums.  The stage is set for an encounter with objective beauty.

This performance was certainly not imagined.  Last night I was moved, almost to tears, by the program and talent of the McGivney band and choral concert.  And it was my students, by their presentation, that reawakened an awareness of a personal need to encounter this beauty.  The music lifted my spirits- literally.  I sat a little taller, felt more confident, and began to think noble and optimistic thoughts.  The beauty of instrumental and vocal harmonies reawakened in me a desire to experience that which is good.  I became aware of a desire to be more present to my reality, to appreciate what I have been given with gratitude, and to recognize more intensely the inestimable treasure of the human spirit.

Standing in front of this beauty, I was prompted to ask the question that arose from the depth of my soul: why?  Why did God make a sunset so enchanting, a rainbow so striking, and a high school concert so inspiring?  I didn’t want the performance to end and I was secretly hoping the program continued beyond what was printed.  In experiencing beauty, recognizing it is good, there is an accompanying wish to experience more of this goodness.

The answer to this question is the framework for a Catholic Christian worldview.  God made the world beautiful and good because He loves us.  At the end of a long and tiring semester, I am tempted to abandon the practice of awareness to the beauty of reality.  I have consequently found myself in a daily struggle to see the good.  My attitude has been negative, I’m overall less hopeful, and I approach various situations from an unsatisfied perspective.  But in allowing myself to stand in front of the beautiful, I am inspired to ask the question that ultimately leads to Truth.