Summer here feels so right: bright misty mornings and cool blue twilights, woods thick and green with staghorn sumac and ferns, the smell of honeysuckle in the wind.
Years ago, a few professors from another school came to my college and gave a presentation about beauty and culture. They described a project in one of their core humanities courses: students had to do something to make the world more beautiful. One student completed the project by handing out red roses in the street.
“Some students tried to combine beauty and justice in this project, but we tried to make them focus on just beauty,” one of the professors said.
It made me wonder: what does it look like to combine beauty with justice? Justice is beautiful metaphorically, but practically, what does that look like?
These past few weeks have been full of pain, grief, rage, horror, and the desire to act. Our hearts are crying out for justice. Does beauty have a place here?
Maybe. I hope so – if beauty is for healing and not just escapism, for goodness and restoration, for reminding ourselves of the coming Kingdom that will right every wrong. Beauty is not a Band-Aid to put on raw wounds, or a dream to distract us from uncomfortable realities. It doesn’t fulfill all of the real needs of administering justice and restoring peace, healing wounded hearts and souls, creating or repairing relationships, and examining our own hearts.
But maybe the small wonders of Creation still have a place in a time of anger and fear. Maybe watching dust motes floating in a sun-shaft, listening to peepers chorusing at dusk, or enjoying the sweetness of wild strawberries reminds us of what we had in Eden and will have in the New Jerusalem: a world of beauty and justice, where people of every “tribe and language and people and nation” worship God together.
With that hope, I am excited to present some exquisite poems by Rachel Donahue, a writer and poet whose work has been reawakening me to the glimmering beauty of everyday life.
When a fairy with hands of blue
in need of help quick-comes to you
with sunlight in her hair
and a prim, expectant stare,
please be careful of her wings
when you lift her to the stream
so that she can flit away
when her hands are clean for play.
A glimmer caught my eye.
Looking full upon it I saw (forsooth)
a sprite, dancing upon the ceiling.
It waved and shimmered,
and though we searched,
we could not find whence it came.
When I looked again,
the sprite had skittered to the corner
and was creeping down the wall,
still dancing ever so gaily
in the fading light.
As the sun passed the water table,
the sprite disappeared
and left us with quickened hearts
and the memory of her likeness.
Rachel S. Donahue holds a B.A. in English and Bible from Welch College in Nashville, TN, and has more than eleven years’ experience changing diapers. She and her husband, Mick, previously lived and worked in Spain serving people groups at risk of marginalization. They now live near Charlotte, North Carolina, where they’re both involved in the family greenhouse business while raising three sprightly boys and a sweet-as-pie little girl. Visit her website/blog at www.thedonahuedaily.com.
Her book, Real Poems for Real Moms: from a Mother in the Trenches to Another, can also be found on Amazon or bookshop.org.