And God saw everything that he had made,
and behold it was very good (beautiful).
The French thinker Simone Weil wrote:
The beauty of the world is Christ's tender smile for us coming through matter. He is really present in the universal beauty. The love of this beauty proceeds from God dwelling in our souls and goes out to God present in the universe. It is also like a sacrament.
Elsewhere, in a vivid image, she compares the universe to the stick of a blind man. Not everyone is able to see the beauty of God in the beauty of the world but we all experience it. As the blind man taps the pavement with his stick, we touch God or rather God touches us through experiences of beauty, whether we are aware of this or not.
Is God a master of disguise? When do we see and perceive God? Jesus talked about blindness a lot. He also exhorted us to wake up, come to reality. The Psalms frequently puncture their poetry with a red light: pause and recognise the moment.
Mystical writers appeal to us to understand that our experiences of earthly beauty have their origin in the divine. Why is there beauty and why need we even feel its effect? Stopping to think about experiences of beauty I note that Harries' and Weil's observations ring true.
The sense of beneficence or benevolence (the smile), immediacy of presence, a connection with soul and essentially a magical touch. It is sacrament, it is heaven meeting earth, a thin place across which grace and love travel.
Can you recall an encounter with beauty? What crossed over into your soul at that moment?