Beautiful stories

I did it yesterday. I stole away for a few hours for a return visit to Brookgreen Gardens. I have intended to use my seven-day pass for more than one visit, and yesterday, I did it. I did it alone, and it felt so good.

As I walked around the sculpture gardens, I admit I was getting somewhat agitated by the brightly, polyester-clad seniors from a region far north from here. Some of the clothes were loud, but not as loud as voices coming from underneath the brimmed hats. It seemed that one mate of each elderly couple had a hearing problem.

Despite a wee bit of interruption to my precious hours of solitude, the afternoon pressed on beautifully. I came prepared with my heavy-laden backpack of essentials: journal, “to-do” notebook, laptop, water bottle, and of course, my three-pound-but-feels-like-more Bible.

I took lots of photographs. I enjoy the process of taking pictures of beautiful things on a beautiful day. I only wish I was better at it so that my images were more beautiful.

The best part of my stroll was when it ended...on a bench, under trees, in a particularly secluded spot with a view of “The Bather” and slowly flowing water. I was there about two hours. I journaled. I spoke to God. I read Scripture. I looked at the gloriousness surrounding me. I teared up a couple of times. The tears came at separate intervals and both at the bringing to my mind of two words. “Beauty” was first.

I had asked God to speak to me, to show me my deepest desires. I have been doing particularly well lately, but I have had an unsettling hunger that I couldn’t quite fill. As I gazed at the sun’s glare on the water in front of me, I remembered that I crave beauty. I ache for it.

Anthony Esolen said it best in his article,”Read Literature to Learn and Love the Truth.” Esolen writes that the aim of the human life “is to behold the truth, and to love it for its beauty.” My heart sang when I first read that, just as it sang on that bench tucked away in Brookgreen Gardens.

As the tears dried, I poured out words to God in my journal for a while. Soon, God reminded me of my penchant for "stories," the second word of remembrance. I love to read stories, and I love to write stories. Stories of history. Biblical stories. Stories told through movies. Adventure stories. Some of my favorite works I’ve had the privilege to write are people’s stories of faith.

A beautiful story. It is surely what God has made of the mess of me. You know, being a wretch and then knowing and believing His amazing grace. Only God can turn such a broken vessel into something so full, complete, whole. Only the Beautiful Creator is capable of such divine, sweet soul satisfaction.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live.”
Isaiah 55:1-3a (NKJV)

Come. Listen. Hear. Let your soul delight itself. Come to Me...and your soul shall live.