‘Bare branches against the stars’

“And of course beauty: the beauty that was for him the link between the ships and the woods and the poems.  He remembered as though it were but a few days ago that winter night, himself too young even to know the meaning of beauty, and when he had looked at a delicate tracery of bare black branches against the icy glittering stars: suddenly something that was, all at once, pain and longing and adoring had welled up in him, almost choking him.  He had wanted to tell someone, but he had no words, inarticulate in the pain and glory.  It was long afterwards that he realised that it had been his first aesthetic experience.  That nameless something that had stopped his heart was Beauty. Even now, for him, ‘bare branches against the stars’ was a synonym for beauty.” ~A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanaukenorion sky-001

“Beauty is transcendent. It is our most immediate experience of the eternal.  Think of what it’s like to behold a gorgeous sunset, or the ocean at dawn. Remember the ending of a great story.  We yearn to linger, to experience it all our days.  Sometimes the beauty is so deep it pierces us with longing.  For what? For life as it was meant to be. Beauty reminds us of an Eden we have never known, but somehow know our hearts were created for.  Beauty speaks of heaven to come, when all shall be beautiful.  It haunts us with eternity.  Beauty says, There is a glory calling to you. ” ~Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

“Holmes and I respectively smoked and searched for constellations. When the embers had become mere flecks in the blackness, and the vault of the sky was pierced by a million points of hard white light, I was moved uncharacteristically to song, and with the warmth of the fire on the underside of my throat I chanted to the stars the hymns of Exile, the songs distilled from the longings of a people torn from their land, taken from the home of their God, and left to weep within the boundaries fo the conqueror, Babylon, a hundred generations ago,” ~The Bee Keepers Apprentice by Laurie R King

Lately I have been ruminating over the meaning of Beauty.  In myself, in nature, in spirit. I have felt this great longing for a new perspective.  To see the HEART and not just the veins. I want to tap the world and plunge into the mysteries to find truth. It all started when I was feeling down on myself.  I won’t go into too much detail there, but I was praying for God to help me to see the way He sees; Me, nature, spirit.

I picked up these books and read these passages. It was as if the answer was waiting for me there in the very pages my bookmarks had been.

I was on a bluebell walk with my sister the other night and she talked about the part in Prince Caspian where Lucy can see Aslan, but the others can’t.  Sometimes I feel that way about Beauty. The Garden is there waiting for us, the stars are shining bright, but we cannot see them. And most of all, we do not see ourselves.

I walked through my garden the other day and picked one of my chubby pink english daisies.  The poofiest fluff of a thing, almost a perfect ball.  I liked it best. I looked up and saw a Robin red breast eyeing me from my neighbors weeping cherry tree only a couple feet away. God says he clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the air.  The way I am… My heart, my essence, my flesh…That is how He has clothed me. I am plush and pink, a red robin with blue eggs. I don’t need to change myself to fit into some sparrowed daisy chained mold. I cried.

Why do I need to be reminded so often of my own worth?  Why can’t I just be confident and at rest?

This morning I woke up to Oliver begging me to take him to the bluebell woods.  We’d been three times in the last two days! “Remember that magical bluebell meadow, Mama?  Can we go there right now?” And then he flung himself into my arms to be cradled. He woke up seeking Beauty, and he wanted to share it with me. I saw what he saw and my heart ached.  It sang.

Like Mary Russel singing the longings of people torn from their land, my heart sings songs distilled from eyes torn from seeing beauty in its true form. An exile from the Garden of who I really am.

The glorious, wondrous thing about these interludes in my life is that there is no exile any longer.  The gate is open and the fruit is ripe.  The ‘bare branches against the stars’ are here above me if I would only look up to see.

“A girl who likes the sea and owls and dogs and poetry: Good heavens! a girl of girls! Then–then she said something about how beauty hurts. ‘What! You, too?’ I exclaimed, in effect. ‘You know that? The pain of beauty? I thought I was the only one.’ Whether love was born that night, I cannot say: friendship was.” ~A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken


8 thoughts on “‘Bare branches against the stars’

  1. What? You too? I thought I was the only one! You just quoted three of my favorite books. The Lucy/Aslan relationship is one of my favorites. It brings me to tears nearly every time I think of it. And I’m constantly asking God to show me how He sees me so I can just rest in the confidence of His delight. I hope one day it will be normal. In the meantime, I love being broken by beauty with you! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Bridget! Did you love A Severe Mercy?!?! It has haunted and stayed days with me. A piece of art-beauty-truly. I wept and wept, ached, and felt whole all at once.

  3. Boo! I have been loving A Severe Mercy. He so perfectly encapsulates beauty and love and sweet memories. I read a bunch more this morning and do feel like I’m going to cry and sing at once! So so heart wrenching and lovely!

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