The Invisible Embrace
BEAUTY by John O’Donohue
In beauty we were dreamed and created, and offered a life in a world where beauty arises to awaken, surprise and call us. The outer unfolding of our lives is internally sustained and ordered by this invisible beauty. Furthermore, whenever we awaken beauty we are helping to make God present in the world. Consequently the rituals and the liturgies of religion can be occasions where beauty truly comes alive. The beauty of God is reachable for everyone and can be awakened in all dimensions of our experience. This also calls us to love and respect the world and to care for our earth.
Thomas Aquinas and the medieval thinkers wisely recognized that beauty was at the heart of reality. Unity, Goodness and Presence came together. Without beauty they would be separated and inclined towards destructive conflict with each other. Accompanied by beauty, truth gains graciousness and compassion. Beauty holds harmony at the heart of Unity and prevents its collapse into the most haunted chaos. In the presence of beauty, goodness attracts desire and beauty makes Presence luminous and evokes it’s mystery. There is a profound equality at the heart of beauty; the graciousness which recognizes and encourages the call of individuality but invites it to serve the dream and creative vision of community.
For Plato beauty was not a private experience of self indulgence or pleasure. Beauty was internally related to love and goodness. The basic human drive is the desire for the good. In the beginning love was born of beauty. Plato understands love as a spirit that works on that threshold between the divine and the mortal. To be is to become creative and bring forth the beautiful.
Beauty is the goddess of birth. In her presence the passion and inner fullness of the gift flows fourth in confidence and sureness. And it is through love that we reach a deeper perception of the true nature of beauty. In the Phaedrus, Plato has that remarkable passage where he describes how the soul awakens in the presence of beauty and recovers and grows her eternal wings; gravity and finitude can no longer contain her. According to Plato beauty encourages and invites creativity to unfold. When the soul reaches beyond all fragmentation and entanglement God will come to birth in it.
To participate in beauty is to come into the presence of the Holy.
Submitted by Emilie Van Cleave, RScP