I was staying in a village in the Pyrenees last month, close to the Andorran border. It has been a key location on the frontier for thousands of years, from the Romans to the Spanish Civil War in the 20th century. Archaeologists and historians have found remains of arrows, swords and bullets buried there. It has been a place of battle, fought over for its positioning – it was perhaps also one of the last refuges of the Neanderthals before they became extinct on the Iberian Peninsula. It is a place of power and beauty that people have desired to possess.
Beauty is seductive. Beauty can be dangerous. At first, it is easiest to see beauty at its lowest level – in physical attractiveness. The danger occurs when something is seen only for its beauty at lower levels – it makes the lover want to possess it. If we worship beauty too much, we can become lustful and objectify things and people. If we don’t appreciate it or see it in ourselves and others, we degrade how we’ve been created. Physical beauty is the gift of the young, but it is passing. In time and as we mature, we begin to see beauty at a deeper level, still appreciating the attractiveness of things, but knowing that wanting to possess and control it is useless. It only causes pain. Better we learn to let go and go to the depths of created things in order to appreciate beauty at its many levels.
Where do you see beauty at a deeper level in your life?