Charisse Tierney ponders our need to prepare ourselves for heaven by appreciating beauty.
I stepped out of the elevator of the art museum and came face to face with Monet’s Water Lilies. It was like suddenly coming into view of a mountain range. Or noticing the full arc of a brilliant rainbow in the sky. Or hearing a brilliant performance of a symphonic work.
That aching knowledge that we’re witnessing something so beautiful that our humanity can never quite take it all in--it’s an ache we all need to feel. We can’t help but try to stretch ourselves to see every brush stroke, to grasp the magnitude of a mountain peak, and to hear every note in a perfectly tuned chord. And it is this stretching that increases our capacity for true beauty. It is this stretching that forces us into every corner of our humanity and increases our understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.
Behind every work of art and every piece of music is a person, a culture, and a multitude of emotions, thoughts, and feelings. And behind all of that is the ultimate Creator -- the original artist who made the mountains and the rainbows -- the One who we are really stretching to try to subsume into ourselves.
So many of our tiny pockets of time are consumed by devices, chores, or those things we have to get done before the baby wakes up from her nap.
But as mothers, we also need time to fill up and to stretch towards something soul-achingly beautiful. Reaching for something we will never quite grasp is so oddly satisfying. It reminds us that there’s more to life than laundry, dishes, and diapers.
That day when I came face to face with Monet, I had none of my children with me. I had to push aside the feeling that I should have brought them with me and given them an art lesson and allow myself to just be with the art. I had to rest with the painful feeling of viewing a flash of brilliance that only existed in that present moment.
But it was that ache -- that pain -- that was stretching my soul’s capacity for beauty.
When we get to heaven, we’ll want to be able to drink in as much beauty as possible. Maybe that’s why God created geniuses like Monet and Mozart and Balanchine. So that we will have room in our souls to one day unite with Him as fully as possible.
What nourishes your soul while stretching your appreciation for beauty? How can you make more time for preparing yourself for heaven in this way?
Copyright 2021 Charisse Tierney
Image copyright 2021 Charisse Tierney
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.