Beauty Is No Longer Enough

By Carolyn Shields

I am graced to be living a life that most young women dream ofI have a studio in a wooded area of Philadelphia, a total dream job that involves international travel, heart to heart ministry, a puppy, and phenomenal coworkers who drink with you until 11:15pm on Wednesday nights and still show up to work on time the next day. My heart is doing great, my head is above water, and my off time is filled with sketching by my fireplace, driving to the beach, and sealing letters to friends in little brown envelopes.

But here's the kickerI'm pretty lonely. Not pretty at all, probably more like dangerously alone. And that's when I had to understand that however darling my dirty chai muffins turned out, however simplistically gorgeous my vase of wildflowers are on my barnwood table is, all of this beauty means nothing if I have no one to share it with. I tried finding consolation in sharing those moments on instagram and facebook. I tried real hard. Not surprisingly, it did nothing to resolve that ache.

Every evening I crawl onto my deep windowsill and watch the sun set behind the line of trees, and that natural beauty washes over me. I feel our Holy sitting there with me, refusing to let me feel alone in those last beautiful moments of my beautiful days.

The thing is, and what I'm learning slowly, is that God, He who is in constant relationship with His Son and the Holy Spirit, created this beautiful world like the artist He is. Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si', "The world was created by the three Persons acting as a single divine principle, but each one of them performed this common work in accordance with his own personal property. Consequently, when we contemplate with wonder the universe in all its grandeur and beauty, we must praise the whole Trinity." He had creation all to Himself, every meadow, crystal lake, and every sunset, but He too knew that beauty is meant to be shared. He wanted someone to find joy and awe in His creation with. He wanted to share it.

Beauty will save the world
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

That's why He created man.

And then, after however long, the first thing God deemed not good was realizing that man was alone. Loneliness was the first thing that God condemned, and to resolve this, He created woman. (Do you see how man and woman's creations were meant to solve similar aches?)

Right there we have what Pope John Paul II calls the four reconciliations, or the four relationships: one with God, with oneself, with others, and with creation itself. What happens shortly after man and woman are together? Sin, which ruptures all of these relationships.

After a while, all of this beauty in my life began to fade as I felt loneliness creep in as I became more settled in Philadelphia. And here's where Satan began to dupe me. Just as He lied to Eve in the garden, He began to use my sins to increase my isolation with myself. After each fall, I rose feeling guilty, disgusted, ashamed, angry, and horrified that I hurt my God once more. He was trying to make me feel alone even with myself, and praise God I understood this in time.

Humans are meant to be relational creatures in the image and likeness of our Holy, and what reconciles this is the Cross. That's why Jesus came down to earth, so that we may never be alone and have a relationship with the Father.

So. I want to hear from you. Is beauty no longer enough when it is not shared? Is something beautiful if it is not appreciated? Share your thoughts below!