Senseless Beauty

They had made a decision in their hearts and minds to ignore the evidence and to imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious.

                                      The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce

During the week I spent at Durham Cathedral in England this past August, the town of Durham was abuzz with chatter about the local display of the famous illuminated manuscript, the Lindisfarne Gospels.  Only one page is shown every few years, and though not the most colorful page, it was gorgeously detailed, and that the book had traveled to Durham from the British Library on loan was a big deal.

One of several themes that ran through my sabbatical these past four months was of people doing impractical things.  The Romans building Hadrian’s Wall as the northern edge of their empire near what is now the Scottish border with England… monks from the early eighth century laboring over an illuminated manuscript that became known as the Lindisfarne Gospels…walking to Santiago de Compostela…all cathedrals.

All of these impractical things communicate a belief in something larger than their human creators.  Seeing this single page of an illuminated text demonstrated to me the value of working carefully on the details, and at the same time of the importance in the whole expanse of human lives to have “big picture” people and “detail oriented” people.

The book of Lindisfarne Gospels has survived for 1300 years, beginning its existence as a   compelling symbol of a love for God and of beauty.  The 8th century monks who created it couldn’t have known it would still be communicating those messages to 21st century people.  That’s more powerful even than building a wall.  I wonder if they knew that as they labored in the moment to demonstrate their love for God, creator of all SonyaFirst004beauty.

This entry was posted in Sonya Subbayya Sutton and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Senseless Beauty

  1. Jo says:

    Good to have your Cups back( and for your re-embrace of Harold). Thank you for the reminder that “the sensible thing” may not reflect the promise and glory of God. One of my strivings in these later years is to celebrate the impractical in my life. It is good to attach a theology to this.

  2. Sonya, This is a wonderful reflection, particularly at a time when our culture increasingly devalues things that are not utilitarian in purpose. Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Senseless Beauty, Part One Plus One | The Daily Cup

  4. Christian says:

    I agree with Deborah. People ask “Who cares?” “Why bother?” “Who is going to notice anyway?” But only if you believe that God exists, that He cares, that He notices, and He recognizes those who labor in faith, do you make the extra effort involved. Faith is not practical to those who don’t believe. Protecting yourself, fending for yourself, and helping yourself are what count for those without faith.

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