Peony blossom, Azalea Garden, Northeast Harbor, Maine
“Magnificent!”. “Glorious!” Beautiful!” Those exclamations echoed around the garden as visitors admired the flowering shrubs and peony blossoms.
The adage that “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” holds some truth. We have individual aesthetics or preferences and subjectively value the quality of the tangible or intangible. So, is beauty a reality or an illusion? Is beauty is a perception or an intrinsic quality. Is that peony blossom beautiful when I am not the one admiring it? It is. Independent observers expressed their admiration even when I wasn’t looking.
Thus, another question…Why “beauty?” Does it have a purpose beyond drawing our attention?
Answers might vary depending upon the lens through which one views life. Some believe that we are earth dwellers by happenstance, functioning organisms composed of atoms and molecules somehow directed by complex nucleotides of DNA which originally came from some unexplained source by an inexplicable cosmic accident. If so, the implication would be that “beauty” is merely some chemically induced perception, a mediated reaction identically produced in all humans. However, one has to entertain the question of whether there is purpose beyond the biophysiological for the awe and deep emotions evoked through experiencing and appreciating the diversity and wonder of colors, shapes, sights, sounds and tastes of our expanding universe and the creativity of its inhabitants. Could it be that a good Creator has gifted us with “beauty” as a loving act, as a way for us to relate and know Him better, to sense that He cares and wants to bring enjoyment to our earthly stay?
When circumstances were surprising or difficult, my Grandmother frequently quoted the proverb that “there is reason in all things.” Whether she knew it or not, that is theologically sound! Beautiful “things” should lift our spirits in awe and gratitude for the magnificence of God and His goodness to us just as the Psalmist’s lyrics proclaim : “Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” (Psalm 65:8 (NLT2)
With inaudible shouts, this peony inspires quiet exclamations of joy!