Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
There’s so much ugliness in the world, it helps me to spend time thinking on the lovely things. If I don’t make sure to experience and meditate on what is still lovely in this world I can get pretty overwhelmed with all that’s so unpleasant.
Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of sadness about all the suffering in the world and simultaneously I feel an equal amount of madness about people who contribute to it. Not all suffering is the fault of other people, but a lot of it is, and when it is I get angry. I hope it’s a righteous rather than a self-righteous indignation, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Some would say that I appear to be obsessed in my sadness and anger, and though I try not to be, sometimes I think they’re right.
On “whatsoever things are lovely,” 19th century commentator Albert Barnes wrote: “A Christian should not be sour, crabby, or irritable in his temper – for nothing tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. A sour and crabby temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do.” Lord, help me!
Thankfully, he is helping me and I’m finding a fair amount, if not an intermittent sense of relief in beauty, enjoying what is “lovely.” My favorite sources of therapeutic beauty in this world of ugliness are hanging out with my granddaughters, experiencing creation, and listening to music.
Playing with these two precious little girls reminds me to be simple, and that not everything in life has to be all complicated and confusing. Walking among the ancient redwoods which live and breathe a mere 100 yards from my front door refreshes my anguished soul and speaks of the Creator’s eye for ageless beauty. And last but not least, music washes over my anxious mind like a waterfall on a sweltering day.
The sources of beauty that serve as a tonic to your soul might be other things entirely. Visual art, dance, poetry, literature…? Whatever it is that replenishes your joy in God and in humanity, take time to meditate on and expose yourself to it and see if it doesn’t right your flight for the rest of the day.
Stay tuned for “whatever is admirable”…