This is a web-exclusive article on the theme “The presence of beauty.” For more stories on this theme, see the May issue of The Mennonite.
Beauty matters. It feeds my spirit and focuses my mind. It helps me breathe deeper and relax. It brings me joy. I love to make beautiful things, see beautiful things, use beautiful things. And share beauty with those around me.
Beauty is not the same as perfection. The Japanese view of beauty called wabi-sabi embraces and “accepts imperfection and takes pleasure in the transient nature of earthy things,” says Alice Mori. Appreciating the patina on an object like unpolished silver, an aged clay pot, a piece of seashell values the history and time it took to create what I see.
Beauty is in the world around us. Nature is full of beauty – a source of beauty for the clay work I create. Seashells, flowers, grassy plains, rivers, clouds and sky all inspire me.
Beauty is deeper than what something looks like. It is seen in how well something works like a tool that works perfectly. I found a hand crafted pair of scissors at Ten Thousand Villages and am always eager to use them because they are beautiful to see and to use.
Sharing beauty is important to me. I enjoy creating floral arrangements and collections of things for the communion table at Prairie Street Mennonite Church. It is a way to share what I see and shape what others understand as beautiful, like a stalk of Brussels sprouts for a fall table, a bird’s nest tucked into a branch with a blue robin egg shell in it for spring.
What beauty have you been given to see? What beauty can you create? What beautiful things are yours to enjoy?
Janice Wiebe Ollenburger and her husband, Ben, are part of Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana.