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Kim Andrich explores how finding and creating beauty, especially in the difficult circumstances of our lives, can lift our hearts to our Creator.

In Sarajevo, beginning in 1992 and for two years afterward, in the middle of the brutal Bosnian War, in and among bombed-out buildings as snipers were perched and taking their shots, Vedran Smajlovic would create music. As the war continued around him and people quickly scurried down the road and out of sight, he would dress as if preparing for a concert, set up his cello amid the rubble, and play elegant, often solemn music. A bit of beauty in the midst of destruction and heartbreak. A reminder of normalcy, order, and hope in the middle of hurt and confusion.

It has been thirty years since Smajlovic brought the sound of beauty to the ears of those whose lives were being torn apart by war, but his act remains a reminder of the need each one of us has for beauty, especially in times when our lives feel as if they are in turmoil or are characterized by conflict. In those times, more than ever, it is critical that we participate with God to create beauty each day, that we take in even small moments of beauty in the midst of the chaos.

Creating beauty unites us with our God who, Himself, creates beauty and is beauty. It connects us with that deep part of ourselves that was made in His image and made to reflect Him. It connects us also with feelings of wholeness and joy, meaning and purpose—things that the rubble in our lives steals from us. 

Within parenthood, there are seasons when all we can do is to put one foot in front of the other and to make it through first one minute, and then another, and another, until another day is done and we can close our eyes for a few hours. Though we may not face such sorrow and pain as Smajlovic and the people of Sarajevo did during those years, the circumstances of our lives can weigh us down and steal our joy. It is far too easy to fall into the pattern of just trying to endure those periods in our life rather than to search them for beauty and meaning and for God’s presence. 

Though the difficulties are so often what fills our minds, God remains there with us at every moment, His divine presence hidden, obscured by that which our senses take in and the irritation and annoyance we feel. The God who created beauty, in the person of Jesus, enters into our messy world and now into our messy lives and points the way back to the Creator. Through His very being, He permeates each moment with meaning and purpose. Seeking and creating beauty opens our spiritual eyes to see His presence and His very life living within us and within our children.



Creating beauty may take effort or cause uneasiness as we step out of what we are naturally inclined to do. It may be a simple act and only last a moment, but its effects on our hearts and on those of our children can last much longer. It may be as simple as turning on a song we like, speaking a simple word of praise to God, or giving a hug to a child or a friend and looking her in the eyes with love. It could be taking a child’s hand that he has just used to smear chocolate on a couch.

Rather than using reprimanding words and rushing off to wash the dirty hand so that we can attend to the couch, it’s taking a moment to study that chubby little hand and its chocolate-covered creases and taking the time to kiss the face of the squirmy child and lather his hands with love. The couch can wait for a few minutes, but taking that bit of time and opening our eyes to God’s presence changes our perspective and allows us to see the One who otherwise remains hidden within that child and beneath the troublesome circumstance. 

Creating beauty could perhaps look more like what Smajlovic did—pouring our pain into playing a meaningful song, or into singing our favorite tune at the top of our lungs, into writing a prayer, or into painting or doodling. For some (unfortunately not me!), it could mean cleaning or organizing and creating order in a cluttered closet. Personally, there is little that lifts my heart more than stringing together words in a way that is aimed at giving glory to God. Creating beauty can lift our hearts above the circumstances of our lives in praise to God and can serve to unite our hearts with the Heart of the Creator.

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Seeking and creating beauty opens our spiritual eyes to see His presence and His very life living within us and within our children. #CatholicMom


Beauty is a gift. A balm. A lifeline. It is a reminder that we are more than our pain and that life is more than our stumblings and difficulties. Beauty rises above all that and guides us back to the Heart of the One who, even in this broken world, can pick us up and help us to stand again.



Copyright 2023 Kim Andrich
Images: (top, bottom) Canva; (center) copyright 2023 Kim Andrich, all rights reserved.