To Know Beauty …

I did not have to ask my heart what it wanted
Because of all the desires I have ever known,
Just one did I cling to
For it was the essence of all desire:
To know beauty.
St. John of the Cross

Though beauty is autonomous, there seem to be occasions when human presence can become congruent with her will. In creative work no amount of force or mechanical management can guarantee beauty. Suddenly, without expecting it, beauty is there. Yet ultimately beauty is a profound illumination of presence, a stirring of the invisible in visible form and in order to receive this we need to cultivate a new style of approaching the world.
— John O’Donohue from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

What a strange power the perception of beauty is! It seems to ebb and flow like some secret tide, independent alike of health or disease, of joy or sorrow. There are times in our lives when we seem to go singing on our way, and when the beauty of the world sits itself like a quiet harmony to the song we uplift. Then again come seasons when all is well with us, when we are prosperous and contented, interested in life and all its concerns, when no perception of beauty comes near us; when we are tranquil and content, and take no heed of the delicate visions of the day; when music has no inner voice, and poetry seems a mere cheerful jingling of ordered phrases. Then again we have a time of gloom and dreariness; work has no interest, pleasure no savour; we go about our business and our delight alike in a leaden mood of dulness; and yet again, when we are surrounded with care and trouble, perhaps in pain or weakness of body, there flashes into the darkened life an exquisite perception of things beautiful and rare; the vision of a spring copse with all its tapestry of flowers, bright points of radiant colour, fills us with a strange yearning, a delightful pain; in such a mood a few chords of music, the haunting melody of some familiar line of verse, the song of a bird at dawn, the light of sunset on lonely fields, thrill us with an inexpressible rapture. Perhaps some of those who read these words will say that it is all an unreal, a fantastic experience of which I speak. Of course there are many tranquil, wholesome, equable natures to whom such an experience is unknown; but it is to me one of the truest and commonest things of my life to be visited by this strange perception and appreciation of beauty, which gives the days in which I am conscious of it a memorable quality, that seems to make them the momentous days of my life; and yet again the mood is so utterly withdrawn at intervals, that the despondent spirit feels that it can never return; and then a new day dawns, and the sense comes back again to bless me.
Arthur C. Benson (The Principle Of Beauty)

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and savour each moment as it passes; embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.
— Dominique Schurman (Papyrus brand stationary)

A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. It was hardly a tune. But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.
― C.S. Lewis from The Magician’s Nephew 

May you come to know
that in every human event
is a particle of the Divine
to which we turn
for meaning here,
to which we tend
for fullness of life hereafter.
― Joan Chittister from Welcome to the Wisdom of the World and Its Meaning for You

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
― Madeleine L’Engle from The Rock That Is Higher