The quote “Beauty will save the world” from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is often misunderstood to mean the surface appeal of things matter most. So long as the world around you looks lovely, the world is alright.
Boots on the ground, this idea looks more like recognizing the actual beauty in all things, even if they don’t seem lovely at first glance. It means choosing to believe, even during the ordinary liturgy of living life, that beauty is there, underneath the cracked surface of all we see.
When we choose (because it’s indeed a choice) to recognize the inherent beauty in a creation bestowed by its Creator, we have within us the capacity to be saved from the pull of despair, the desire to anesthetize with mediocre, the yearn to YOLO. That’s astounding.
Life is beautiful, even with its many cracks. Leonard Cohen once penned, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” We know of the relief of sunshine because of endless gray days. We know of the ordinary magic of light switches because of thunderstorms that temporarily zap its power. We know of contented days of laundry folding, the pleasure of quiet drives on windy farm roads, and the gift of a drink with a friend because of dark nights of the soul.
There is a sacramental nature in all good things because that’s how earthly life works. Thanks to our divine Maker, we’re given the gift of witnessing beauty, goodness, and truth everywhere we look, if only we choose to put on those glasses.
This blog has been a gift to me. I started it on a whim with a newborn cradled in my arms, and two days ago that baby turned thirteen. Within those years, I learned how to write for others, write for myself, develop the calluses required to learn from readers and ignore trolls, and marvel at the wonder of how we can even connect at all across time and space. There’s a dark underbelly to screens and social media and the internet, but today, as I write this last post, I’m choosing to see its beauty.
I’m so very grateful for anyone who read nothing more than a paragraph on this space. I’m grateful for the loyal readers who’ve been here since day one, commenting and subscribing and supporting. I’m grateful that I’m not the same person I was at age thirty when I started it. I’m grateful for the late nights of hard work, the early mornings of broken plugins, comments to moderate, and expectations to not meet. These all have made me a better human.
Mostly, I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made. Cliché and yearbook, but it’s true. I can’t count all the good souls I’m fortunate to know because I hung up an open sign here back when blogs were the newest rage. If beauty does indeed save the world, this was a remarkable way it happened in my life.
I’m not going anywhere. I plan to write even more in my newsletter (but not too much; don’t panic), I hope to find more time to pen more books, fingers crossed one day there won’t be a global plague and we can enjoy another pilgrimage to London, and as early as next week I’ll be back with a new podcast episode.
(In fact, I’ve got a really good announcement on the pod coming your way soon. Make sure you’ve subscribed so you don’t miss it.)
I’d love to stay connected with you — I’m more active on Twitter than Instagram, but either are fine. My most dependable correspondence comes via 5 Quick Things, my short free email I send out most Fridays. I’m currently working on renovating my vintage-trailer-turned-backyard-writing-cabin I’ve christened Josephine March, and I’d love to show you to her.
That’s where I hope you’ll find me over the next few years — writing inside while I watch the backyard chickens graze and our neighbor leaves another plant on the shared stone wall for us to try in our garden, walking our dog Ginny to the coffee shop across the street, in the classroom doing my best to convince teenagers that Jane Eyre is magic, and guiding you to the pub in Oxford where Tolkien and Lewis workshopped stories over beer.
It may not make me glamorous, wealthy, or social media-famous, but I choose to believe beauty will, indeed, save the world.
Thank you for being part of that.
top photo: New Zealand in 2014, its beauty making me cry daily