Mundane Beauty in a Sterilized World

In a world of instant gratification and lightning speed electronics, I long for stillness, labor, and a practice of quiet. I want to take the time to not only see, but also enjoy beautiful things, extravagant and mundane beauty alike. 

This is, I think, a God-placed desire. While we live on earth we long for true peace and beauty, because we are living in separation from God. He has not yet made everything new, and we are not yet at home with Him. Every man is seeking fulfillment, rest, and beauty, yet only the Believers will truly find what they are seeking, this found only in Christ alone. 

The Lord is the Creator of Beauty and the Fountain of Peace, and we can see little reflections of Him in the everyday gifts that He gives us. We are wired to seek, and His Children are called to rest and enjoy His good gifts.

In a world that has been sterilized by the digital, I long to hold things that are genuine, things that can be held, that can be practiced, that can be truly enjoyed amidst the simplicity. I am tired of the world trying to commercialize beauty and making the claim that happiness is found in “finding your true self.” Beauty, physical or otherwise, is not defined by what we see on the continually lit screens in front of our faces. 

True beauty is found is the Lord. True peace is found in the Lord. Sin and death are found in us, but Life and joy in Him. The beauty of God is not only found in the extravagant and large moments of life, but also in the ritual of the weekly routine, the daily calendar. 

I practice counting and enjoying the good gifts of God by taking the time to hand sew things that I could more quickly mend with my sewing machine, or by listening to the entire 12 minute classical music piece without skipping to my favorite measure. Sometimes it is by handwriting letters, color sorting the laundry, not wearing my watch, or opening a physical book for an hour at the coffee shop before I open up my laptop or phone. On Wednesday afternoons, I sit alone at the piano and sing songs that stretch my voice, and enjoy my untaught hands and untamed voice. 

Finding art around me has become a happy little game–the hand appliqued tropical bird napkin from a thrift store, clearance flowers, tiny picture squares, my roommate’s handwriting, and the Scripture inscribed inside the dainty flower ring on my pinky finger. Some days it means adding songs to my favorite playlist, each song one I love and enjoy. 

One of my most enjoyed places of routine and beauty is in the practice of making coffee. My mother will attest to my growing collection of various ways to brew coffee and mugs to put it in. Via gifts, thrift stores, and Amazon, my personal home coffee lab has begun to overflow. It is an art, as well as a hobby. 

Learning different ways to send the water through the rich smelling beans, producing different textures and flavors of coffee, is something that I greatly enjoy. 

I have found myself especially attached to the method of pour over. It takes time and practice to brew a pour over cup, and seems to be the method that requires the most tactile interaction between the ingredients and the hand. I must first grind the beans, heat the water, transfer it to the pour kettle at the right temperature, warm the cup, place the dripper, dampen the filter, measure out the grounds, pour in just enough water to let the coffee “bloom”, and then swirl the water over top in a circular motion, until the cup has been filled. This is how I most often find myself brewing my coffee, even though it is not my most preferred flavor or texture of the drink. It is, however, my most enjoyed preparation. 

I love to watch the grounds and water interact, the dreamy steam rising from the swirled basin as my arms moves the kettle slowly above. It is an activity that satisfies all of my senses and feeds my hunger for beauty. It is the slow practice and art of the thing that I enjoy, as well as what it produces. 

There is beauty to be found in mastering and making something, something that requires a sort of delayed gratification. With the making of each fresh cup, I am reminded of the blessings of the Lord, and thankful that He has made me able to enjoy finite joys, because they point me to Him.

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