When I went to General Assembly for the second time, I heard a sermon entitled “Crushed by Beauty”. I was struck by the title, wondering how someone could be crushed by something as good as beauty. The preacher, who is from a family of artists talked about how beautiful the world is and how overwhelming the response to such beauty can be. She was “crushed” by it in that she was overcome in the presence of spectacular creations, both human-made and nature-made. For years the idea has haunted my thinking as I tried to figure out whether I had ever been crushed by beauty. I wanted to be - it seemed like it would be wonderful to give myself over to emotional response in the presence of great art.
So it finally happened and at a most unexpected place. My whole family [3 generations, including grandchildren] went to Disneyland. The day was spent enjoying rides, good food, enormous crowds, beautiful weather, and general fun. And then it was time for the fireworks show. Now I should tell you that I’ve seen lots of fireworks - after all we can watch them any night from the church parking lot - and I enjoy them, but I wouldn’t have said they were great art. This time, though, we had really good seats! And when the music and the lights came on to accompany the display I was overwhelmed by the sight. The crowd oohing and ahhhing helped the feeling along and the delight expressed when first Tinker Belle and then Dumbo flew across the sky was the cherry on top of the sundae. I truly knew what it felt to be crushed by beauty. My breath was taken away and tears filled my eyes. It was indeed as wonderful a sensation as I’d hoped it might be. I came away filled with joy and energy - energy I knew I could put to good use in the parts of the world that aren’t so beautiful.
And here’s the most delicious part [yes, I’m using that word ‘delicious’ deliberately - another sensation of joy!] - I realized that I’ve had that feeling before. Sometimes when I listen to music I am overcome by its beauty and almost always when I attend the theater, I’m overwhelmed with emotional response. Sometimes it happens for me in nature, as well, especially when one of my dogs comes to sit with me, pressing his body against mine - his way of showing me love.I just didn’t think of those moments as 'beauty’. Life is so much more wonderful when I find beauty in it. It enlivens me to be ready for the moments when I know I need to be strong, when I don’t like what I’m faced with, when it’s time to stand up and be counted in support of my Unitarian Universalist values. But I’ve now added a new one - the desire to be crushed by beauty! I hope you, too, will find moments in your life that are almost too beautiful to bear, however that happens for you.
In the meantime, may you
Go shining, Karen