Still Your Useless Struggles
As an artist, I feel like I’m naturally drawn to beautiful things. Like a warm spring evening, with the sun setting, and the most perfect pink, orange, and light blue clouds framing the sky. Or a beautiful church that takes my breath away. Or even a long, drawn-out dinner where the candles burn low, and the conversation lasts long into the night.
These types of things my soul desperately longs for.
In February of 2022, I traveled to Milan, Italy, with some friends. One of the days we went to Varenna, which is a little coastal town right on Lake Como with a perfect view of the Swiss Alps. We had no real plans that day other than exploring the town and drinking cappuccinos. Little did we know that most of the town’s shops would be closed for whatever Italian reason. Instead, we found a little beach that had the most perfect view of the lake. We sat on that beach and read the books we brought for about three hours before we meandered to a little lakeside cafe for our coffees. It was one of my favorite days.
That whole weekend we were in Italy, I was wrestling with the very famous quote by Fyodor Dostoevsky, “Beauty will save the world.” But it wasn’t until a blustery day in this small town in Northern Italy that I fully understood it.
That morning, I read in my Magnificat this phrase, “God in His power is refuge and strength; God in His mercy is the river that refreshes the soul; God in His beauty stills all our useless struggles and gathers us into His peace.” And it occurred to me: beauty brings peace.
Have you ever walked into a beautiful church and just stood in awe? Or contemplated a painting in a museum for a couple of minutes longer? Or allowed yourself to be swept away by a beautiful piece of music? Have you allowed yourself to just rest before beauty?
It was in this moment that I realized that the beauty of God, beauty that transcends all things, pauses my hurried life and my useless struggles, and gathers me back into His peace. It puts a pause on all the things that fill my day, almost like taking a huge breath and coming back into my body. As an artist myself, creating beautiful things is something I’ve always been drawn to. The fact that I get to co-create with the ultimate Creator is something that is deeply transcendental.
We, as a people, are so busy, so hurried, even with good things. But sometimes, this busyness means we don’t have time — even for God. There is always a pressure to be doing something, to fill our lives with things so that we don’t have time to sit and truly rest.
And even when we do rest, we don’t know how to do that.
This is why I think the role of beauty is like a megaphone God uses to call us back into His peace, to still all our struggles for a moment, to breathe, and to remember Him.
Isaiah 30:15 says, “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” Notice it doesn’t mention frantic energy, hustling, sheer determination, or even busyness. No, it says waiting, calm, quiet trust.
It is an invitation by the Lord to come once again to Him and to give Him your burdens and abide in the vine of Truth of His peace.
My prayer for you is that you experience this deep rest that the Lord is offering to you at every moment and experience this beauty that stills all your struggles.