When the Beauty Never Leaves

I love our local bazaar in the fall. A gentle and steady wind blows down from the mountains, stirring the tree branches and their yellowing leaves. The summer heat has passed, and the buildings, the people, and earth itself seem to sigh contentedly in the cooler weather. Some trees and plants even celebrate the lower temps with a second, mini Spring. Pomegranates are ripe, piled high on carts, red and crunchy. Olives are ripening also. The autumn sun, lower and playfully angled to the south, shines through the swaying branches. Street musicians play classic melodies on stringed instruments and traditional flutes.

Every believer likely has certain places where they feel eternity bleeding through into the present. Places where the beauty of this world awaken some kind of deep memory – or prophecy – of another world. Eden that was lost, or Eden to be remade. These longings, as Lewis pointed out, can be sweeter than the deepest pleasures realized in this life. As penned by The Gray Havens, we “can’t find something better than this ache.”

I wonder what kinds of scenes awaken this inner longing for eternity in other believers. Is it something we all experience? Are some of us for some reason particularly haunted by these tantalizing flashes and whispers? If so, then it is a good haunting. Even if at times it leads to tears.

For me, it’s often angled, gentle sun. The wind and the branches softly dancing together. The happy sounds of a bazaar in Autumn. A warmth in my chest and an echo of a memory in my mind of something wonderful and somehow also painful.

I’ve felt it elsewhere also. When sun flicked the waves as the seagulls dove and cried and our ferry made its way across the Bosphorus. Or when we waded into an ancient river barefoot during a summer sunset. Watching a Melanesian island sunrise as the waves smash the coral shores. A silent snowfall over a lamp-lit Minneapolis footbridge. An orchestra playing Handel’s Elijah. A particularly sweet conversation with a local believer over a cup of chai. A moment of Edenic intimacy with my wife.

These echoes, these previews, remind me that I am not yet fully alive. But that one day I will be. The groaning creation will then be set free into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21). Its resurrection will follow ours, just as its fall followed ours. No more hints, previews and echoes on that day. But face to face, unveiled glory. The creation, the resurrected ones, the king himself.

Sometimes all of this really is present in an afternoon moment in a Central Asian bazaar. It comes, it sings, it fades again. Eternity has bled through once again. And I am left behind. Yet not forever.

Steady on, my soul. One day the beauty will come – and it will never leave.

Photo by Ali Kokab on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “When the Beauty Never Leaves

  1. Funny I should think of this… When I was a child of perhaps 9 or 10, when I would go outside in the backyard after dinner in the summer, I remember on certain balmy days when the stilled-air blending of temperature and humidity was so perfect as to induce my body’s perception of “nothingness” surrounding it, akin to dipping one’s hand in lukewarm water that exactly matched the surface temperature of one’s skin and not even being able to sense the wetness of the water. It gave me a sense of oneness with the atmosphere, oneness with nature, oneness with God… I’ve never known any physical sense since of such quiet belonging that could quite compare.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Every believer likely has certain places where they feel eternity bleeding through into the present. Places where the beauty of this world awaken some kind of deep memory – or prophecy – of another world.”
    Thank you for giving me these words to put on what I have felt!

    Liked by 1 person

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